There is something to be said for memorable vacations. I’m not talking about the kind where everything goes as planned and you have perfect family photos in matching outfits on the beach and when people ask how your trip was you simply say, “it was very nice.”
I’m talking about the OTHER kind of memorable. The kind where, if someone asks about your trip you bust a gut. I’m talking about the kind where, years down the road when my kids tell their own kids about their vacation, they don’t remember the things that all went routinely but can recall, with detail, the quirky things that made those days away special.
Because for me, that’s what vacation is. It’s a step out of your normal life, into a pretend time where there’s a tiny coffee maker in your bathroom and someone gives you clean towels. It’s a time where you roll your eyes at laundry and don’t do any cooking but think it’s perfectly fine to eat a can of Pringles for lunch. It’s a time when you focus more on the living and less on the life.
And then, in your foggy bliss of junk food and pool chlorine, something so bizarre happens that it catches you off guard and makes that extraordinary day so astonishing, it’s forever engrained in your mind.
When I was eight years old, we visited Disneyland for the first (and only) time. I can’t tell you about the roller coasters or Donald Duck, but I can tell you that I ate too much candy and then took antacids that had accidentally soaked up nail polish remover and got very sick in a very public restaurant. I can also tell you that I was one person away from winning a camera while standing in line for the Monorail. End of story.
If you ask my children about their first trip to Disneyworld, I’m sure they will tell you one thing: Giant underwear.
Sadly, the most memorable thing from our entire recent trip was indeed giant undergarments. And somewhere, there is a large lady thinking that our memory wasn’t so great and probably yelling at her husband for not packing them. The story goes, after checking into our hotel, we scoured the room for extra blankets and pillows only to find instead a drawer containing someone’s pressed, folded, and neatly stacked panties. Maybe we were slap happy from a day of the happiest place on earth, but we couldn’t have laughed harder if Mickey and Pluto jumped out of that drawer and did the hula dance on the bed wearing a toga made from bleach white hotel towels and then flew out the window singing She’s a Grand Ol’ Flag.
Naturally we had to confirm with photographic evidence the unexpected treasure and even though it was past our bedtimes, I still allowed the sporadic giggles I heard throughout the hotel room, mostly because a good portion of them were mine.
And as I was finally settled down enough to think about a day full of lines and rides and lost tickets and tired children, I was calm enough to be thankful for those giant undies and the impermeable memory they gave my family on what will probably go down in history as one of our best family vacations ever.
Charlie Chaplin once said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” And Walt Disney said that “Laughter is America’s most important export.” And somewhere, I’m guessing a sweet, kind lady is saying, “I don’t think it’s very funny that I left ALL of my underwear in Disneyworld.”
But I for one can truthfully say, “The happiest place on earth gets a little happier when you come home with laughs, smiles, and great, big memories.”