You know those people that have giant inflatable snow globes on their lawn come Christmas? (Maybe you ARE one of those people). For many years I thought that was the tackiest thing I'd ever seen. I wondered WHY would ANYONE put such an atrocity on their front lawn?
And then I had kids.
And I understood that a lot of these families do not have bad taste....they just have kids. And the joy and delight that fills up their child's face at the prospect of having something SO MAGICALLY COOL on the lawn come Christmas trumps the parents' desire for their home to look classily festive.
And this is why I found myself with a line of light up plastic candy canes festooning my walk this past holiday season.
There's something else that will happen soon that I never thought would happen.
We're going to Disneyland!
(Actually it's Disney World. But it's so much more fun to say you're going to Disneyland.)
I hate crowds. I mean I REALLY hate crowds and my husband is not much better. Going to a boy scout pack meeting requires many deep breathing exercises, attending school Halloween parades is best done after a shot of tequila and visiting Funtime America is to be avoided at all costs. I'm the person who likes to eat out at 5 pm like an octogenarian because no one's at the restaurant and we only go to Chuckie Cheese (once a year) at 10 ON THE DOT on a weekday so that we are the only people there and can then scurry out the door like Chucky's namesake character when it starts filling up.
When we go on vacation, it's always somewhere somewhat obscure, very non-touristy and usually off season so it's nearly empty. Some people thrive on the energy and excitement of crowds but I'm not one of them. I like quiet, particularly when I'm on vacation trying to recharge. I love when there's "nothing to do". Jackpot! More books to read! ( I know what you're thinking..."We MUST HAVE HER at our next party!")
And yet, next month we're going to Disney World. My oldest is nearly 7 and I had several families urge me to go "before the magic wears off" and this terrified us into booking a trip. This trip has all of my least favorite things -- crowds, rushing, lines, frantic schedules, bright lights, constant noise and giant turkey legs.
A part of me longs to tell the children that Disney burned down and then go to Block Island instead to sketch lichens and visit the island's lone alpaca.
But their joy in realizing that they're going to Disney is sort of sweeping me up in the excitement also. My youngest can't wait to see Minnie Mouse and my oldest wants to battle Darth Vader. They can't believe they're going to visit a haunted mansion and spin on the tea cups. They are thrilled and euphoric that we're finally going on a vacation in which the main event doesn't involve hiking through a beachside trail because that's really all that there is to do.
And while my husband and I are aren't exactly donning mouse ears yet and prancing around the house to "When You Wish Upon A Star" I have to admit even we're getting pretty excited. I've been sharing details with the children of our itinerary "Eating with Lady & The Tramp! It's A Small World! Fireworks!" It's a far cry from our previous non-kid vacations which include visiting the Tate Modern in London and sampling mussels in St. Jean de Luz or sailing completely around this random island as I alternately vomited and went snorkeling for an 8 hour period. But those kinds of activities aren't geared for children that young. Well, except maybe the vomiting.
Yes, in many ways Disney will be my kryptonite -- over-stimulating, crowded and noisy. It's the anti-vacation for someone who's at heart an introvert. But I think the looks on our kids' faces and the happiness this trip will bring them will far outweigh any panic attacks I'll be experiencing while we're there. Or at least I hope. If it's dreadful we don't have to go again.
Even though it's a giant pain in the ass and extremely expensive, I think travel is really important every so often, not just to get out of your normal environment but to have your kids experience other parts of the world. There will be a time, yet again, when my hubby and I can go back to the southwestern part of France or take our teenagers on the 12 hour flight to the North Shore of Oahu when it's deserted. But at this point, it's the Magic Kingdom. The things we do for our children.
I'll pack my flask. (Is this frowned upon?) Dumbo the Flying Elephant here we come!