Grab a tissue and get ready for some happy tears!
TODAY’s Al Roker is back home and on the road to recovery after spending four weeks in the hospital. But he’s not quite ready to return to Studio 1A yet.
So this week, the entire TODAY family gathered together on Al’s doorstep to surprise the beloved weatherman with some holiday cheer to help him feel merry and bright.
The plan was to assemble all the anchors, producers, crew and security from TODAY and have them sneak up to Al’s home and belt out Christmas carols for the man everyone’s missed so much.
Now, you might think that getting so many people together on short notice would be a scheduling nightmare. But that was the easy part. When the plan was announced, anyone wanted to know was where and when.
The tricky part was the logistics of getting a massive crowd decked out in Santa Claus hats to Al’s place without being noticed.
While the anchors and staff rehearsed their carols a block away from their destination, Al and his wife, Deborah Roberts, were just returning from a doctor’s appointment and were about to drive by the TODAY gang.
Thankfully, Deborah was in on the surprise and sent a message to the team to hightail it to another block.
Once Al was back home, everyone quickly made their way to his doorstep, with Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb ringing the doorbell and kicking off what turned out to be a touching event filled with smiles, tears and songs.
When Al opened the door, he had an emotional response to seeing and hearing all of his friends again. But once they wrapped up a round of “Jingle Bells,” his signature wit was on display.
“It’s impressive you did that without a prompter,” he said with a sly grin.
But after giving everyone a laugh, Al got serious.
“I’ve missed you all so, so very much, all these faces,” he said. “It just means the world to me and to our family and my Deborah, who’s just been my rock. I thank you so much. I really appreciated it.”
“It was one of the most heartwarming moments I think (for) all of us,” Savannah said of the surprise. “Everybody was in tears, and it was just beautiful and so wonderful to see him.”
And Al was just as happy to see them, too.
“It was special, it was powerful,” Al’s 3rd hour of TODAY pal Sheinelle Jones added. “You could just feel the love.”
Al could hear it, too, as everyone raised their voices to deliver another song of the season: “Al Be Home for Christmas.”
“I love you more than you’ll ever know,” he told them all.
When Dylan Dreyer reflected on the special moment on TODAY, she noted, “This place means so much to Al. To have us all just go out there and serenade him was — it was emotional, and he appreciated it.”
After the segment aired, Al shared his gratitude on his Instagram page.
“Words cannot express how much I love my @todayshow family for coming over to do a little caroling including a special rendition of ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas,'” he wrote.
Of course, this isn’t the first Al has seen of his TODAY friends in recent weeks.
During a video-call visit to the show earlier this week, Al mentioned he had frequent visitors during his stay at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
“You guys have been terrific coming by the hospital,” the 68-year-old raved. “Hoda was actually, I think, named as an honorary doctor. She would literally show up. She did a ‘Ho-dini,’ the way she would just be there.”
Al’s been through what he refers to as a “tough slog” lately.
In November, he was admitted to the hospital due to an issue with blood clots in his lungs and leg. It forced him to miss hosting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for the first time in decades. And after a brief return home for Thanksgiving, Al was back in the hospital, where he spent the last few weeks.
But through it all, he knew everyone was rooting for him.
“It gives you a profound sense of gratitude for this outpouring of prayers and thanks,” he said. “I’m a very fortunate person.”