for release Friday December 24, 2004
by Melodie Davis
No Room in the Inn and the Mother at the End of Her Rope
Many people visit Disney World over the Christmas holidays. Is it a fantasy come true, or a near disaster?
Our family looked forward to our first visit there 12 years ago with great anticipation. After all, isn’t it the epitome of every kid’s dream? Isn’t it every parent’s desire to be able to take their children to Disney World? My parents, who at that time spent their winters in Florida, were paying for the visit, as they did for all of the other grandchildren at the “appropriate age.” We rented a hotel for one night—not the deluxe kind inside the gates but a cheap, cheap one on the outskirts, we booked two rooms for the seven of us.
We headed to Disney World early in the morning and it was a good thing because by late afternoon, the lines were clogged.
My parents were tired, so we agreed that I would go check them into the hotel for the evening, and then I’d return to the park to meet the family to spend the rest of the evening there. We agreed on a meeting time and place: 6:30 should allow me plenty of time to make the trip and get them settled into their room. This was long before cell phones, of course.
Traffic was horrendous and by the time I got to the hotel, the desk clerk said there was only one room reserved for us, and they had no more rooms in the inn. They said all the other nearby hotels were full. We would just have to rough it with all the kids on the floor (fire codes not withstanding). I fetched my parents some sandwiches from a nearby fast food restaurant, and headed back to Dizzy World.
By then the traffic was almost at a complete standstill, and as the time approached to meet up with the family, I was past the point of crying. I knew there was no way I could get to the grounds, park, and get to our appointed meeting place by the agreed upon time. They would just have to wait. They wouldn’t be happy, but what choice did I have? I turned on a music cassette and let “Peace Like a River” flood over my soul.
Meanwhile, my husband had heard an announcement that there were no more visitors being allowed into the park. They were full. He, too, started to panic. How would I get back in? He talked to an attendant. They got on the phone.
Finally I got to the gate and by then the flow of visitors had eased enough that they did let me in. But once on main street, I couldn’t go anywhere! Crowds were lining up for the daily parade and it was quite impossible for me to move anywhere. By now I was more than 45 minutes past our agreed upon time. I couldn’t cry now. They just had to wait.
Then I devised a path by snaking in and out of stores: with the crowds all out on the streets, if I could make my way into a store, I could traverse the width of the store in relative solitude, go out a side door, and then push my way through the crowd when on the street, gaining ground much faster. In and out I went like that for a few blocks.
At long last, I was within sight of our meeting place. My husband was on the phone with a guard, saying they had to let me in. I hollered and finally managed to throw myself into the arms of my anxious family. We were all past being upset with the late hour—just glad to be reunited in that mass of humanity. For the rest of the evening, my husband made sure we held hands whenever we pushed through crowds so that no one got separated. How scary when the youngest was just six.
We made up for lost time by trying to hurry to as many rides as we could in the waning hours. My oldest and her father could have kept going until 1 a.m., but finally I had had it. I wanted to leave. I was exhausted. Father and daughter begged for one more ride. Suddenly I thought my purse was not in my hand. I lost my composure and had the closest thing to a panic attack I ever had—crying and struggling to breath on the street of Fantasyland. Then my middle daughter saw that my purse, rather than being in my hand, had simply slipped to the crook of my arm, and I didn’t even realize it. Everyone tried to calm me down, and father and older daughter finally got the message that it was really, truly, time to take mother back to the hotel. My middle daughter kept saying, “Mommy, don’t have a nervous breakdown!” I said, “I’m okay, I’m okay.”
I do wonder if there was a point at which Mary—the pregnant, in-labor Mary accompanied by her ever-loving but maybe overly ambitious and optimistic Joseph, just lost it—in their search for lodging that eventful night. Most mothers will identify with my losing it—we’ve all been there one time or another. I’m sure if Mary was angry with Joseph, later on maybe it was one of those special family memories she “pondered” deep in her heart. We do know they both got angry at their son, Jesus, and probably at each other, when Jesus was “lost” when they made a big holiday trip to Jerusalem when he was 12 years old.
Every family has experiences like this—even (or maybe especially) during the Christmas holidays. And somehow if we can survive them, and live to laugh about them, we will treasure them in our hearts as part of what it means to be a family.
For a free Christmas gift from Another Way, write for a special booklet featuring all of the scripture passages in the New Testament that reference “Nazareth” in some way. Ask for the free “Jesus of Nazareth” scripture booklet. Send to: Melodie Davis, Another Way, Box 22, Harrisonburg VA 22802 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (Please include your paper's name in your response.)
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Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three daughters.
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