"Mom. I won't be able to make it in time. I have to work from 8 AM to 8 PM. I don't want you to be upset or mad at me, but I don't see how I can make it. I'm exhausted."
December of 2008 was the only the second time my youngest son Alex wouldn't be with me for our traditional turkey sandwich at 6 PM on Christmas Eve. Part of the Disney World College Program which started in May and ended January 2, he was scheduled to work every day the last two weeks of the holiday season. It was the busiest time of year in the happiest place on earth..for other families, of course. Even in the time of tight pocketbooks, I had to keep the traditions.
I had driven from North Carolina the day before, not being able to fathom my baby boy having to spend a Christmas alone. I had visions of a former Christmas, spent with his eighteen year old brother Cameron in the isolation unit of Duke University Hospital. Cameron had just received his first cord blood transplant in 1997, on the cutting edge of stem cell research, to save his life from acute myleoblastic leukemia.
"Mom. Are you going to be mad if I don't come see the fireworks? I've been working twelve hour days, and I'm really exhausted."
After Cameron died, my father surprised myself and my two remaining children with a trip to Disney World. Animal Kingdom had just opened in 1998, and on that trip, I vowed to take more vacations, more time to stop and enjoy my family. After our first trip, taking almost yearly pilgrimages to Disney World instilled an early love of the whimsical fairytale land in an impressionable 10 year old Alex.
Now 20, and a rising junior at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington as a theatre arts major, he had taken advantage of the college program to spend a semester working for "the mouse". But...it was Christmas!
He timed his break from the character line with Minnie Mouse to walk to the entrance and give me a hug at 6 PM on Christmas Eve. "Merry Christmas, Mom". I hugged him back, and gave him a turkey sandwich I had brought with me from North Carolina. Small traditions kept with love.
My last day at Disney World was at Magic Kingdom, to watch the fireworks and "icing" of the Cinderella Castle, parades, and Tinkerbell make her flight over Fantasyland. I always stand at the same exact spot, right at the entrance to Tomorrowland.
"Mom. You know I have to work until 8 PM. The fireworks start at 9. There is no way I can finish working at Animal Kingdom, shower, change, take the bus to Animal Kingdom, fight the crowds, and make it. Are you going to be upset?"
"No, because you know that it's important to make Christmas special for those little kids. It may be the only time they get to be at Disney World...it's not about us, it's about them. You are making memories, making traditions they'll keep for their own children some day."
I took the Disney transportation bus to Magic Kingdom at 5 PM to stake out my territory. After the lighting of Cinderella's Castle, Spectromagic Parade, I waited. At 9:00 PM, the fireworks extravaganza was beginning. I stood up to get a better view, right at my favorite spot...where I always stand. Suddenly, somebody was rudely trying to get my spot, and I heard "excuse me" right next to me, as they were jostling me for my place!
He was out of breath, still damp from his shower, and carrying his "costume" in his backpack...but he was there. As the music played "I'll be home for Christmas", he turned to me and said.."or home will come to you."
Small Traditions...kept with love.
Last edited by NaDawn1; 01-02-2009 at 02:07 PM.
"all my wishes will come true."
CP alumni spring 2008
What a great story. Thanks for sharing it here.
Yes, as guests we forget that to make the magic during the week of Christmas, there are many, many cast members who aren't able to be with their families.
mini-V What will you celebrate?
Adult daycare for the kid inside you.
Amazing story, thanks for sharing!
"Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy"
Awesome story! Thank you!
Tiffany~ºoº ~ D23 member
Sufferer of Disney Vacation Depression
97'~French Quarter, 99'~CBR, 01'~Movies, 03'~Music/PORriverside/DCL, 05'~POP, 06'~Movies, 08'~Movies, 09'~Disneyland/ Embassy Suites Irvine/ 10'~Music, 12'~LBV Best Western Disney View
Too bad there isn't a "Turkey Leg for the Disney Lover's Soul", huh?
(oh..and that's a true story, of course..i'm still in the disney glow)
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