Thursday, December 22, 2011

Celebrating Jesus at the Happiest Place on Earth

With only three days until Christmas, the question on everyone’s lips is, “What are you doing for the holidays?”

I have some friends that are headed to the slopes for a white Christmas and some to paradise for a tropical Christmas, but we are headed to Disneyland for a Magic Kingdom Christmas.

When I was growing up, my folks were divorced so I logged a lot of miles at Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, my mom would always have our family on her side at our home for dinner and holiday cheer. Then, in the morning, my Nana would head over and we would open presents. By noon, I was dropped off – and as I got older would drive myself – to my Paternal grandparent’s house where I would open presents and eat dinner number one. Typically, my Dad would be at his parent’s house but, as I got older and my half-sister was born, they wanted to be at their own home for the holiday; Meaning I would jump in my car and head to their house either before or after Grandmom and Pops. Lastly, I would end my day driving to my Nana’s house where the whole maternal-side of the family would open presents and I would have Christmas dinner number two including a second round of deserts.

Whew! By then I would feel almost manic from running around all day, not to mention the fact that I would need to unbutton my pants from all that turkey, ham and pie that I had consumed.

So when I moved to California, I was pleasantly surprised at how calm the holidays were for Jason and me. In the beginning, I would head over to Jason’s parents’ home for Christmas dinner but it was usually later in the day so I had all morning to just relax. To be honest, I didn’t really know what to do with myself and it actually caused the holiday to feel anti-climactic.

So almost 20 years ago, Jason (of course) came up with the brilliant idea to go to Disneyland on Christmas Day and it has been our family tradition ever since.

In the beginning, we would head over to Jason’s folks early in the day and exchange our gifts with them. At that time, in the mid-90s, Disneyland actually offered discounted prices for tickets purchased after 4pm.

Then Jason’s parents purchased their cabin on Lake Mary in Mammoth and would head up there for Christmas, so we began going to Disneyland all day on Christmas Day.

A few revelations:

Yes, it is usually crowded, especially if Christmas falls on a weekend. A lot of Christians – who live out of state – plan their family vacations at that time since the kids are out of school. Not to mention that those of the Jewish – as well as many other non-Christian faiths – feel that it would be a good time to visit “the happiest place on earth.”

Before Sept. 11, it was not unusual to see Islamic people praying toward Mecca in the parking lot.

Side note: I would also like to point out that the urban legend that Disneyland is not crowded on Super Bowl Sunday is a fallacy that I experienced first-hand. I really don’t know if there is ever a holiday in which Disneyland in not crowded. Don’t believe the hype.

In those days, Disneyland was a dry state. However, Jason and I nipped that little problem in the bud by bringing a flask of Captain Morgan rum with us. It goes great with not just coke but lemonade and hot chocolate as well. During those years, when it was a bit nippy outside, a hot toddy went a long way.

One year, before I had a child, and the skin on my heels had been ripped off by about a half-dozen strollers, I actually proclaimed aloud, after a few swigs off the flasks I might add, that children should be banned from Disneyland.

Sad, but true, that we needed alcohol at the happiest place on earth; but we certainly weren’t the only ones subscribing to that belief.

Today, anyone’s cup can runneth over as Disney’s California Adventure and Downtown Disney both serve alcohol.

Jason and I were absolutely consistent with our tradition until I was pregnant with Shane and, it poured rain on that Christmas day, so we didn’t miss much. The following year, it was Shane’s first Christmas and he was only 9 months old. He was still dependent on two naps a day, so we decided to forgo the tradition once again. When Shane was 18 months old, we still felt that he was too young for the whole experience and for us to enjoy the tradition, so we just took him to Rainforest Café and walked around Downtown Disney.

However, the year he was two (and could still get in free), we finally reinstated the tradition. And when he was three, we actually booked a hotel and went for two whole days. No wonder that kid travels well.
Mickey & Shane Christmas 2006
The last two years, we did not go because we did destination Christmas trips instead; however, the last time we did go on Christmas was another rainy day – although the down pours were intermittent – we were prepared and unfazed.

While entering Frontierland, I inadvertently hit a woman with my umbrella. However, because I was under my umbrella, I did not realize this at first. When I did, I apologized profusely. I was surprised when I was met with a bunch of expletives and the threat of getting my ass kicked.

While standing there, frozen in shock, the beast of a woman came after me but slipped on the wet ground and went flying – feet first into the air. By the time she made it up with her husband’s help – she was seeing red and feeling foolish – so she really wanted to kill me.

Sadly, with her family and mine on the side-lines, I called her out. I said, “Just because you feel stupid that you fell, you have no right to assault me. I hit you with my umbrella and I said I was sorry, it was an accident. You are a loser and Merry Christmas.”

With that, I walked away and prayed she wouldn’t attack me from behind. Her husband was restraining her; Jason grabbed Shane and we fled to the safety of New Orleans Square.
I was shaking and glad I didn’t have to go Jersey on her. However, I did the next best thing and reported to her Magic Kingdom security. I was secretly hoping they would force her ride Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride 500 times. Yet, after a few minutes, we forgot all about the incident and continued on with our fun.

Over the years, we have deviated from our Disneyland tradition a bit. We have visited on alternate days with family members or invited close friends to join us. Us Maussers have even traveled all the way to Europe to visit Disneyland Paris and sweated our way through Disneyworld, Epcot and Animal Kingdom.

But, it is always back here in Southern California at Disneyland, that we have the most magical time; and this Christmas will be no exception.

“I don’t want the public to see the world they live in while they are at Disneyland. I want to feel they’re in another world.
All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

                                                                                 -- Walt Disney                                           

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