Disney magic

My kids love Disney. They can’t help themselves, they were raised on it. For most of their early childhood, their tv exposure was limited to the Disney Channel and classic Disney movies. That grew into a love of the parks and an ongoing appreciation of the best of Disney music and inspiration.

I admit I shamelessly fostered their interest, fueled by my own youthful exposure to the House of Mouse, and a sense of security that if the tv was tuned to the Disney Channel I could relax and know their little minds were being exposed to wholesome fare. Alright, sometimes corny, but in the 80s and early 90s, Disney served very wholesome fare every day.

What is it about the formula that has worked so well for so long? The best of Disney, the classic animation, is both charming and clever. The art and music are witty, and hold up well. Best of all, the characters and stories are innocent, hopeful, idealistic…all qualities that nurture, especially today, when childhood is threatened by a too-early loss of innocence.

So this week my son, just out of the army, and his wife, still in the army, are at Disney World. It warms my heart that they chose to go there for vacation. Maybe they feel the need of sweetness and light when their daily lives are grounded in a very different reality. Not sure of the draw, but whatever it is, I support it. You can’t have too much innocence in this world, I’m thinking.

Stephanie and Matt went to Disneyland earlier this month and took little Riley for her first visit. She loved the teacup ride and got to sample several others that were just her speed. She got a Minnie doll and another toy or two that will serve as reminders of her first visit. She’s a 4th generation fan.

Not sure when I’ll get another Disney trip in. Rob and I were in Orlando last year for a conference and I had to carve out a day to visit Disney World, the first time we’d been in several years. It was odd to be there, two adults lining up for rides and wandering through the crowds. No kids in tow, no strollers, no small hands to keep hold of. I missed that a bit. And yet it didn’t stop me from enjoying the nostalgia of being in the park, seeing what had changed, being completely charmed by the amazing fireworks display at the end of the day.

As much as I love some things that are current, modern, up-to-date (think phones, computers, internet), I am equally enthralled by the timeless and classic era that Disney represents. Want to see cute and clever? Watch some of the old Disney cartoons. Or for even more fun, look up some of the Disney live action movies from the 50s and 60s. I promise, you’ll be transported to an America far, far away. And it’s a good place to visit now and then.

I’m not one to look backward, believing that everything from an earlier era was perfect, just because things have been whitewashed by the passing of time, or sentiment for the past and frustration with the present. But there are some things that only seem better as they age. Here’s to you, Mickey! May the House of Mouse stand a long time, entertaining and reminding that humor and cleverness can be kid-friendly and still appeal to the adults in the room. Oh, and some of the current stuff works pretty well too. Can you say Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom? “Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate’s life for me!”

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Date night

Last night Rob and I had a date. Tuesday night, nothing particularly special about it. But we made it special. We made it movie night, grocery night, talk night.

Last year I read the book, The Help, and like so many, loved it for its humor and touches of tragedy, yet over-riding triumph of the human spirit. It is a wonderful story of awakening minds, standing up for what is right, and the dignity of spirit that can’t be diminished by work or position, however lowly those may be. Character shines through.

Ketchikan has a two-screen theater, but I’ve noticed that we’re consistently behind the rest of the world by about six weeks with movie release dates. So while everyone else was seeing this movie back in August, we are only just now seeing it in October.

I grew up in Mississippi. But I’m happy to say that I didn’t witness the types of scenes that the movie portrays. I know they happened. I’ve heard stories here and there. But I didn’t grow up with a maid in my home. So I can relate to some things, and yet I can’t.

The southern accents, the homes, so much of the movie rang true to me. Although I don’t remember the specific historic time (I was a bit young, less than three years old when the events in the movie occurred), the general look and feel seemed authentic. Some of the events really happened, of course. Medgar Evers was killed in June of 1963. The civil rights movement wasn’t an era to be studied in a history class, it was a current event. There are other signs of the times that seem strange viewed from 2011: the hairstyles, the dress, the cars. In several scenes people are smoking. But it isn’t the smoking itself that catches the attention: it’s the location. In one scene, a receptionist at the local newspaper office is smoking, on the job, during work hours. That would never happen today. The painful discussions of the practical side of segregation would not occur today. No one is sending sanitation initiatives to government officials in 2011.

But the best parts of the movie are the timeless bits: the scenes that show people living up to what is best in themselves, challenging others to see the value of humans, not of color; and recognition of the most basic values of life. Children, women, the elderly, minorities, and the poor are all celebrated in this film. But it is not done in a condescending or patronizing way. The emphasis is on the worth of people in general, the recognition that all have value and a contribution to make.

The film is also about redemption and growth. The main characters all grow throughout the story, and we are allowed to see them shifting their opinions, embracing a different view of life. In the end, the movie is about claiming the potential we have, and treating people right along the way.

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