Magical Memories: The Gift

Magical Memories series hosted by Mouse on the MindHappy Holidays! We’re just a little over a week from Christmas … Are you decking the halls yet?

This year, I’ve teamed up with some of my very favorite bloggers (and friends!) to share stories of our favorite Disney-related holiday memories. Some of them are heartwarming, some of them are hilarious. All of them will put you in the spirit of the season. 

Today’s post marks the halfway point of the series, and it was written by KJ from Plus the Magic. She’s got a wonderful creativity, and I just love her photo-a-day series. She brings a wonderful energy to this series of posts as well as a very special story of a fabulous family holiday memory.


The year was 2009. I had scrimped and saved, and I was finally able to plan a trip to Walt Disney World with my eight-year-old daughter and my husband. This was a very big deal for us- we had never really taken a family vacation before, let alone a vacation to Disney. My husband and I had both gone while growing up, but this would be my daughter’s first time and our first time as a family.

I wanted a special way to reveal the gift on Christmas morning. I got my creative juices flowing and came up with a plan. Long before the days of Pinterest, I had to (*gasp*) come up with an idea all on my own. So I wrote a clever little poem, which would be wrapped in a ribbon-festooned box, then placed inside of a brand new suitcase (oh so clever), and carefully hidden at the back of the tree.

My husband had a video camera at the ready, to capture what would surely be the most exciting, magic-filled moment in all of Christmas history. It would be epic, and it would be glorious. She would be beside herself with excitement, unsure of who to hug and kiss first, tears of joy might be shed, and heck, there might even be some confetti showering down. This was going to be the Greatest. Present. Ever.

The time had come to pull the gift out from the back of the tree. She opened it. She read the poem. She re-read it, smiled, and looked up at me.

“We’re going to Disney World!” I exclaimed, barely able to hold my excitement for another second. She lit up a little and said, “We ARE??”, and I answered, “YES!”

And then, with a slight shrug… “Oh. Cool.” And she set the poem aside, ready to open the next gift.

It felt like a crushing blow. The winds were ripped from my sails, and I came crashing down to earth. Granted, this is hardly the demonstration of gift-gone-wrong hilarity that has sprung up a whole subset of “Disappointed Disney” videos on YouTube… but it stung, nonetheless.

I wanted to shout, “Wait- maybe you don’t understand…” but that was just it: she didn’t understand. Not yet anyway. How could she? She was eight: not quite the jaded preteen she would soon become, but also not still young enough to blindly assume she’d be getting MAGIC with a capital M. Plus, May? That was so far in the future for a girl who still had a few presents in front of her, waiting to be unwrapped. We moved on, and I went about my planning.

We waited those long five months, and went on that trip in May. I’m happy to report that she fell in love with the place. That first family trip remains one of our best family memories. There have been several trips since, some planned in secret and discovered under the Christmas tree. I’ve learned to temper my expectations, and I know that while my daughter (and my husband, for that matter) really do love visiting Walt Disney World, this “Disney thing,” as they call it… it’s my passion, not always theirs. And that’s ok.

It’s unlikely I will ever be in Walt Disney World for Christmas. As much as I would love many aspects of the experience, even if I could convince my family (doubtful), the thought of the holiday crowds is enough to keep me away. But I’m always a little melancholy and nostalgic for Disney when holiday time approaches. Maybe it’s because by this time of year, it’s usually been a while since my last visit. My family graciously helped me try to ease this feeling when they got me a small artificial tree. These days, when Christmas rolls around, we put up a nice big tree in the living room; but upstairs, in my home office, I get to put this little guy up, just for me…

KJ Christmas (Plus the Magic)
Do you recognize my tiny ornaments?

In a way, that first Christmas with Disney under the tree for my daughter turned out to be a blessing in disguise. If my excitement and enthusiasm had been matched by my family, I might not have ever needed to carve a creative outlet for my passion. I may not have needed to seek out kindred spirits–the friends I’ve made through blogging, through Twitter, through Disney social media…perhaps some of you reading this now. I may not have started blogging about Disney at all, and I may not have fallen into the open embrace of this passionate Disney community. And I am so much the richer for being here with you.

Say it with me now: awwwww! We love you, too, KJ! And we’re so glad you shared your big fat sad trombone moment with us.