Wednesday 31 October 2012

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We're Spending Christmas at Disneyland Again

Our kids have a bit of a reputation at school. No, it's not as the kids who have the coolest parents (although I have no idea how that couldn't be). They're known as that family that's always going somewhere. Since preschool, our kids have spent most of their spring, summer, and winter breaks, and a good chunk of their long weekends, traveling. They've seen all sorts of things in all sorts of places, but in case you think it's been all travel and no fun, a large portion of that time, including all the Christmas seasons, has been spent at Disneyland.

Disneyland Christmas Tree

To me, that sounds like a pretty great life. A few years into this travel schedule and I was starting to sketch out my acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in parenting. In my mind there couldn't be a better way to spend your holidays than traveling, so imagine my surprise when each of our travel announcements were being met with increasingly louder murmurs of discontent from our children. It seems that my kids no longer shared my mind when it came to traveling. They'd developed their own mind, and worst of all, it was the dreaded "teenage mind".

Now if you don't understand how the teenage mind works, let me quickly explain it to you. To a 14 year old, if your parents think something is cool, it must not be. This applies to everything, from cars to movies, and even Christmas mornings at Disneyland. If I tell my son that the sky is blue, he's going to tell me it's green, and then he'll complain to his friends about how embarrassing it is that his Dad didn't know that. It's a simple contrarian viewpoint, and there's really no way to argue with it.

Teenage table eye-roll
Have you ever seen a more stereotypical teenage table?
There are ways to manipulate it however. If one of my daughters takes up a fondness for a song I can't stand, all it takes is one attempt to sing along with it in the car and that song will forever be deemed "uncool", immediately to be banned from her music collection. Using little tricks like this, I can usually get my kids on board with whatever travel plans we have without having to suffer too much of the eye-rolling and the "Do we have to go AGAIN?" questions. This past Christmas though, the complaining reached a level that even I wasn't able to adjust. 

Pluto Reindeer Round-up

Last year, none of my kids wanted to spend their winter break at Disneyland. I know it's hard to believe, but they just wanted to stay home in their pajamas, play on their computers, and socialize with their friends. Nobody was interested in a Christmas morning ride on Space Mountain, and no matter how many times I tried to change their minds, I couldn't convince anyone to be excited about our annual trip to the Happiest Place on Earth. I gave it a few shots but then, in a move very uncharacteristic for me, I decided to give in and let everybody stay home for Christmas break.

One year later, you want to know how easy a time I'm having getting everybody on board for Disneyland this Christmas? It seems that staying at home last year was "boring", and apparently the expectation that Mom would get up and make the same buffet breakfasts that the Hyatt makes every morning, didn't quite work out the way my kids thought it would. There was also the revelation that we live in Canada, and going anywhere in December involves shoveling a foot and a half of snow off the driveway first. That's not usually too much of a worry in Anaheim, although one year we did have to wear pants and a light jacket. The locals still refer to that as "the cold snap of '09". Brrrr.

Disneyland Cold Rain

This year, we'll be back celebrating Christmas in my favorite place. Instead of opening presents, we'll be doing laps on Indiana Jones and Space Mountain. We won't be having Christmas dinner with our immediate family, we'll be eating with our adopted one - Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy & Pluto, and instead of checking out what our friends got for Christmas, we'll be checking out the new Cars Land in California Adventure. There will be plenty of pictures of course, and if you look extra close, I'll bet you can almost make out a little bit of an extra smile on my kids face. Almost a "Yeah, Dad was right" kind of look, although I'm sure it will still be hidden under the required amount of teenage angst. I'll know it's there though, and that's the only Christmas present I'll need (or be able to afford) this year.

Written by Steve Pratt