A year of planning, even more years of saving, imagining, anticipating, packing, traveling, and we are, finally, on day 1 of our family Disney vacation. It’s hard to believe we are finally here. We hug and catch up on the latest news of our lives. We download the Disney experience app to our phones; book our dining reservations, fast passes and special experiences. New Mickey and Minnie PJs for the kids, a plan of action for the week, a good night’s sleep and we are ready for the Magic Kingdom.
The week is packed with memories made and stories told. Laughter and tears sweat and sore feet, sunshine and near perfect weather. It passes much too quickly. After 40 miles of walking, 5 theme parks of rides, shows and parades, a big blue swimming pool, 70 quick meals, 70 snacks, 70 bottles of water, a extra special character birthday dinner, and we find ourselves at the end of the trip. How is that possible?
Day 8 isn’t quite as exciting as day 1 when it comes to vacationing. The clothes are all dirty and dank. They never fit back into the suitcase like they did on the front end of the trip. It always seems to me the best weather appears the morning we are leaving. We slowly pull our suitcases through the lobby looking quite crumpled wearing clothes best described as questionably clean, while passing families fresh off the road looking crisp and eager for the full week ahead for them. I remember thinking how lucky I was that our trip was just beginning on day 1 as I watched those other crumpled families passing us dragging their smelly bulging suitcases and I thought, “Whew, I’m glad that’s not me.”
Day 7, I start feeling panic-stricken worrying about the things we didn’t do and now don’t have time to do. I start realizing I didn’t take all the pictures I meant to take. It never fails, I always get so sad to leave my precious vacation. How can I possibly say goodbye to something I love so dearly? It means saying goodbye to our children and grandchildren who flew across America to meet up at the happiest place on earth. Why would anyone ever leave the happiest place on earth? It truly is a magical place. It is always everything we hoped it would be. I find myself fighting back tears and trying to squeeze every second of memory making out of the last fleeting moments.
Reality is calling and we must answer this time. Our turn is over. We pack up the car and kiss everyone goodbye. It’s officially over. We run back into the gift shop to buy a few last minute snacks, trying not to let the Disney employee see our sadness, but she knows the look very well and she handles it like a pro… She rings up my purchase and compassionately says, “So, you’re heading back home now?” I manage to nod as I scanned my mickey magic band one last time. The green light meant the purchase was good. But the green light also meant to me, it was time to go. I smile, she smiles, and I turn the very last page of our story and see the familiar words, “The End.”
We feel thankful and blessed for the privilege of family and vacations. As I settle into the car to ride home, I mentally flip back through the files of the week’s memories. I smile, even chuckle, with a grateful heart and lie down for a much-needed nap.
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” – Psalm 16:11