As it happens, we just celebrated our very first Canadian Thanksgiving as “real life” Canadians… in Disneyland, California— where it wasn’t actually Thanksgiving. But it’s all good, and we certainly found lots to be thankful for in the “happiest place on earth”!
We decided to take our almost-18-year-old, Jameson, and 15 year-old, Jacob, for a completely frivolous, fun-filled four days of Disney-ness. Thanksgiving seemed like the ideal time to celebrate childish wonder and exhilarating thrill-rides. Maybe it was my mommy heart desperately wanting one last vacation together, just in case the eldest takes off for the wild yonder next year. Maybe it was the after-effect of our little girl Charlotte getting married this year. Maybe we simply needed to do something fun 🙂
The last time we were at Disneyland was 10 years ago, when Jacob wasn’t even tall enough for most of the rides. This was his first roller-coaster experience, and I was determined to go on every single ride with my men folk. And I did. Plus I got my hair wet. Multiple times.
I even faced my fear of the flying swings (roller coasters— no problem, swings— utterly petrified), and willingly went on the stuff that makes me nauseous. It was truly awesome.
A huge highlight for me was meeting Mickey Mouse. Twice. In different costumes and everything. I even got a kiss!
A few Disney lessons learned along the way:
*Take copious amounts of snacks with you. Especially if you happen to have teen boys present.
*Download charades on your phone. In the tedious line-ups, we had the best time playing all manner of charade games, much to the amusement/ bewilderment of those around us.
*Do not do anything strenuous for the week preceding your Disney trip. Injuring my Achilles tendon at Zumba resulted in a gimpy, limpy Laura. But strapped and taped, I was up for everything, no problem. But probably not advisable.
*Do not arrange for a 3am taxi and a “nice early” flight on your return home. Already exhausted after enduring Disney pace for several days, this will almost throw you off the deep end.
*Fast passes are your very best friends. Use them wisely. They will make you feel like a celebrity when you pass the “commoners” lining up for 80 minutes for Space Mountain. Until you are the “commoner” at the next ride.
*Time your big meals with the roller coasters. Seriously.
With pumpkins galore at every turn, and Canadian Thanksgiving in the air, I was grateful for much. *For this crazy, fun, surreal destination where someone dreamed big and brave once upon a time. *For my family with me, enjoying the ridiculous and the breathtaking. *For my newlywed daughter and her husband setting up home in Montreal, and starting a spectacular life together. *For daily health and strength, for inspiration, imagination, and the opportunity to write fact and fiction. *For an amazing church in Kelowna, and freedom to worship and live out our faith where we live. *For upcoming adventures and opportunities to make a difference in this world, even my corner of it. “It’s a small world after all”…
Just when I thought our adventure was over, we experienced the most amusing shuttle ride to the LAX airport. I swear our driver was Clarence from It’s a Wonderful Life… you know, the elderly white-haired angel who talks incessantly and wants to get his wings? He talked and looked just like him, I kid you not. Our Clarence launched into a 15-minute lecture without taking a breath on the scam of the Internet (he does not have “an Internet” or “the e-mail”). We were barely able to hold it together once the 3am giggles took over our bodies. He went on for a further 15 minutes where I learned about his 95 year-old mother, his summer road trip to Dollywood and Dean Martin’s hometown, the romantic plight of his young cousin whom he raised for many years, and many other miscellaneous details spanning his 72 years. It was priceless. The perfect end to a perfect Disney experience.
And now it’s back to reality (with my 900 photos). I’ve had a magical time and been able to stand back and give thanks. I’ve thought about our globe being “a small world after all”, and wondered what I can DO. I listened to dear old “Clarence”, reminisced on It’s a Wonderful Life, and considered how many lives I TOUCH without knowing. I watched the pure joy and wonder on the faces of children, and was reminded of the child-like FAITH required of me. And as I watched tiny princesses dressed like their favourite Belle or Elsa or Cinderella, I was grateful that I am the daughter of the King of Kings. Is it too corny to dig these treasures from a Disney trip? Maybe. But I guess I’m a child at heart, with a writer’s imagination, and a desire to make the most of every opportunity I’m given…
Thankful for wonderful places and everyday graces,