We all know how I feel about childhood magic. How I consider it to be vital. Right up there with air and goldfish in the list of things that sustain my children. A necessity.
Believing so strongly in childhood magic requires a certain pilgrimage at some point, at least one point, during a childhood.
To the center of the childhood magic universe: Disney World.
So, we went.
And oh sweet Mickey and Minnie was it magical.
And, of course, the thing about childhood magic is that it really isn’t reserved for those who are defined by age as children.
We lose it along the way with the baby fat and the little kid voices and the tiny teeth. But I want to have that wonder for the rest of my life. To get lost in their worlds as often as I can. I want to believe in fairies and princesses. I want to marvel at the flowers blooming and rejoice in the rain because it makes things grow. I want to greet each day as a precious gift. Another chance to explore and dream and do.
And I do ok with this. On many a Friday night, I can loose myself into the moment during our weekly ice cream ritual. The warmth of the setting sun restring softly on my shoulders. The sweetness of chocolate and milk and sugar. The simultaneous relaxing and exhilarating feeling of standing in the threshold of the weekend. There are times I find magic there.
But there are also times when I don’t. When the week has been just a bit too long and I arrive at the ice cream shop still thinking. About deadlines and to dos and things I just remembered about things I forgot. And the sun is too warm and the ice cream melts and children scream and the moment is anything but magical.
And I’m not saying that ice cream didn’t melt at Disney world. It did. And children cried and screamed. And there were definitely very grounded-in-reality kinds of moments. But, somehow, they were fewer and farther between there. Or, at least, they seemed so. And maybe it was all an illusion. Maybe I just saw what I wanted to see. Magic.
And it wasn’t just about seeing the magic through their eyes. Though it was that too. Because you couldn’t not see it through their eyes. They glowed with the awe of it all and radiated it almost constantly.
But it was also seeing it through my own. Surrendering to the moment. Allowing myself to really look forward to, even get a little giddy about, riding in a flying pirate ship guided by Peter Pan. Or ‘visiting’ a dozen countries at Epcot and eating pizza in Italy and getting henna in Morocco all within the same hour. Singing my favorite Disney songs as if the parks were playing my own little soundtrack of all my favorites just for me. Watching a parade of some of the sweetest characters ever imagined dance in front of us and squealing with my girl each time we saw another favorite.
For a few days, I chose to believe it really was Mickey and not a guy or gal in a costume.
Because, why not?
As adults, it’s tough to give in to all of this. Reality is where we live because it’s how we make a living. It’s the structure of our worlds. As parents, we are often the providers of magic. We can’t just sit back and believe in Santa Clause, mostly because we have to actually be him. And so throughout all of the important magical moments of our children’s childhoods, we have to stay at a distance. We have to see the magic of Christmas mostly through our children’s eyes because we are the creators of that magic. And yes, it is still magical, but still at a distance.
And that, I suppose, is why Disney World is the center of the childhood magic universe. Because there, we are all children, breathing it all in and suspending reality. There, magic is woven into the fabric of the place. Pumped out into the air like the sweetest smelling perfume. There, even the adults can get a hug from a big smiley mouse and not feel one bit ashamed.
And yes, the adult in me knows what’s really at play. The business genius behind the place. How specifically and carefully architected all of it is to garner just these exact feelings. I’m still swooning over all of it now, a good month since we were there. I get that they are counting on these feelings in me to inspire return trips and more return trips after that.
But so what?