My childhood was simple. Idyllic, really. And simple.
We lived in the country. Our social activities were school and church.
We rode bikes on our empty country road. We walked through the fields. We had sleepovers (sisters and friends) in the log cabin play house my dad made for us. We spent time gardening and preserving food (picking, snapping, husking, peeling, canning and freezing) during the summers. We read books. We didn’t watch much television, and only a rare movie (almost never in a theater).
We sat down as a family every evening to a home-cooked meal.
We camped. A lot. Tents, pump water, and outhouses. (In the rain more than once. After all, this is Oregon.) Backpacks and no pump water or outhouses a couple times.
We were a houseful of homebodies (other than the youngest—she was definitely outnumbered).
But my grandparents (my mom’s parents) lived in Southern California.
They drove to visit us often, and we loved their visits. They were fun, activity-driven, child-centered grandparents. My sisters and I always felt that they were our biggest fan club. They were unfailingly interested when we’d talk to them about what we were doing, what we were interested in and passionate about. They always wanted to make things happen for us, or at the very least be the loudest cheerleaders on the sidelines.
A handful of times during my childhood, we made the trip down to see them.
Grandma’s house. With Fruitloops. Grandpa’s house. With a big telescope for looking at the stars.
Grandma’s house. With a gazillion house plants that she had rescued from imminent death. Grandpa’s house. With a globe and science experiments.
We would pack a picnic lunch. Grandma would pack snacks in her voluminous purse. And we’d all drive to Disneyland for the day.
It was magic.
All of us rode every ride. My grandparents seemed to have more fun than anyone. Grandma was always 20 feet ahead when we were walking to the next attraction, eager to see it all, as fast as possible.
Sunshine. Crowds. Excitement.
My sisters and I agree, Disneyland is one of our most favorite childhood memories.
My boys have a childhood different from mine. Not completely—they live in the country just two miles from my childhood home where my parents still live—but the 5 other people in this household are extroverts, so I’m getting used to going and doing more than I did when I was little.
Still, when we manage to “vacation,” it’s a couple days in Bend, Oregon (camping, at a swim meet, or possibly playing in the snow), a day at the beach, a day (or a few) in the mountains (camping or not), an educational field trip or local sightseeing. When the boys were little, we took a couple road trips. Eventually, I’d love to take the kids on a cross-country sight-seeing trip, but at these ages more than enough loveliness exists right here in our back yard (or within a couple hours) to keep us busy.
Sometimes, just sometimes, mamma craves a purely pleasure-filled trip to Disneyland.
Six years ago, we took the boys, then 6, 4, and 2 years old. [photo above] We went just as I was coming out of a period of depression and anxiety, and the experience was, well, magical. We had a delightful time. Delightful. Let me repeat that. Delightful. And delightful was more than I could have asked for at that point in my life, and with the ages of our kids.
We haven’t taken a full family vacation, for purely pleasure, since then. For six years.
I’d say it was time.
It’ll still be quick. But we’re going to wring every hour of fun out of these few days.
See you on the other side.
[Grandpa, I’ll be thinking of you while we’re there, and wishing you could be there. I’ll take lots of pictures!]