There really is nothing as mesmerizing as the excitement on the face of a young child.
Having been blessed with five grandchildren (so far), my wife, Connie, and I had the opportunity to spend a week with two of our grandchildren, Wyatt and Collin, our son, Chris, and our daughter-in-law, Erin, at Walt Disney World just more than a month ago.
While it was amazing to take in all the sights as an adult (I rode Smuggler’s Run on the Millennium Falcon at Galaxy Edge twice), what made the trip so memorable was the reaction Wyatt (4) and Collin (2) had when we went on a ride or to a show, but especially when they met many of the Disney characters.
For Wyatt, this wasn’t his first go-round at Disney.
When he was 2, he was excited when he spotted a character from far away, but when any of them came close, especially the characters with the big heads like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, etc ... he hid his face in whomever was holding him.
Much like her older brother when he was 2, little “Collin Shirley Donough,” as she calls herself, was not impressed with the “big head” characters.
Wyatt, however, has grown out of the scared phase, and he was quick to hug every character he could, with the exception of Darth Vader. The photos taken of Wyatt hugging all the characters are of a boy with a huge smile on his face.
Getting back to Darth Vader, while waiting in line to get our picture taken with him, Wyatt told the young woman working there he was scared to see him.
She bent down, looked him in the eye and said, “It’s okay, he won’t hurt you. Here is a sticker with the Empire logo so he thinks you’re one of him, even though we both know that you’re not.”
After that, Wyatt was fine and we got the picture.
Although Collin was scared of the “big head” characters, there was one she was very excited to see ... Anna from the movies “Frozen” and “Frozen 2.”
Before seeing Anna, we got to see her sister, Elsa. Collin wasn’t all that impressed, but when we moved on to see Anna, her face lit up like a Christmas tree, she smiled from ear to ear, and she engaged with her. When it came time to leave, she started crying and kept saying, “Anna, Anna.”
Needless to say, there were so many memorable moments from our week at Disney.
Just a few short weeks after our trip, we spent Christmas Eve at the home of my in-laws, Dale and Colleen Worline, with our youngest son, Ryan, our daughter-in-law, Krystal, our daughter, Samantha, and her three kids, Roz (9), Harper (3) and Jaxson (2).
(My brother-in-law and sister-in law, Dale Jr. and Kelly Worline, and their daughters, Sadie and Lilly, joined the fun a little bit later).
As you can imagine, the pictures I took when our grandchildren opened their presents were beyond priceless.
Perhaps the best moment came from Harper, a little girl who has a smile that could light up a city.
Ryan and Krystal bought her a blanket with a mermaid tail, and the moment she realized what it was ... let’s just say her range of emotions from shock, to elation was nothing short of amazing.
Not to be outdone, when Jaxson opened up a truck that hauls Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, his whole body shook and he jumped up and down.
Roz, who loves all things artsy, had her “jaw-drop moment” when she opened an art kit featuring all kinds of amazing projects.
I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone say “Thank you” as many times in a row as Roz that day.
As it turned out, although stressful at times, December was a great month for family.
Those memories are sure to last us a lifetime.