Saturday, January 9, 2010

Holiday Memories - Part 1

Happy New Year to all! Let's hope 2010 is better than 2009.

Christie, Mike and Evie spent 12 wonderful days with us this holiday season, so 2009 wasn't really a bad year for us. Indeed, we have much to be thankful for.

We are just now getting back to normal after their visit, so I should be able to blog regularly again. I've missed it, but I've enjoyed the hiatus and what we did during it.
Evie is three now and beginning to do things that she may actually remember when she is much older. I am happy to say that Christie is anxious to give her daughter adventures and memories much like Tina and I tried to give Christie. Disneyland was always her favorite spot, so of course she wants Evie to love it as well.

And on this, her second visit, she clearly did, as seen in the photo above. In fact, we did the Teacups five times and the carousels six. And grampa got to ride Dumbo with Evie twice - the first time I did Dumbo since Christie was about 12. Interestingly it used to be one of my favorite rides when I was small, so the tradition continues.

The visit did produce some interesting observations along the way. The most striking to me was watching Evie's personality develop. For example, in the picture below, taken from the fourth floor of the Grand Californian Hotel where we stayed during our 3-day, 2-night Disney adventure, you can see in the upper left-hand corner of the magnificent main lobby floor the glow of a large television.

You have to hand it to the folks at Disney: they know how to handle things. If you look in front of the screen you can see lots of little, kid-sized craftsman-style chairs. The TV plays Disney cartoons continuously. Parents can park their kids in front of the screen while they are standing in line to check-in or check-out at the front desk just beyond the TV.

One day, we decided to split duties. We would watch Evie while Christie and Mike went on California Soaring (my favorite ride in all of Disneyland/California Adventure - although Buzz Lightyear and the Midway Madness come close) because Evie was too small to go on it. Then when they were done we'd switch. So we sat Evie in front of the cartoons while Tina and I rested in the adult chairs just to the right of the TV, where we could watch her without being obtrusive.

Evie, like many kids, is very shy around people she doesn't know. In fact, it was difficult to get her to pose with the Princesses, even though she wanted to see them. Same with the rest of the characters like Mickey and Goofy. She wanted to see them, but from a comfortable distance.

She began watching as I expected; very quietly and aloof to the other kids. She has a habit of sucking the thumb of her right hand and rubbing her bare belly with her left. It must be a comfort thing. This time, while she sucked her thumb, she was holding a small, clear Tinkerbell figurine in her other hand that had a green LED inside that you could turn on or off with a switch. It was given to her by the waitress at the Blue Bayou the night before and she loved it.

After a while, I noticed her talking to the little girl sitting next to her. She then proceeded to show the little girl her Tinkerbell and how to operate it. Then she would fly Tink around with one hand while making swooshing noises.

Pretty soon, she was talking to the boy and girl on the other side and showing them Tinkerbell. And that's when things really got interesting. As kids would cycle through, she would become the hostess and show them the screen, then Tink and then how to operate Tink - light, swoosh and all. She even let several of the kids hold Tinkerbell and one girl even ran to show her mom the figurine. That did not faze Evie at all. In fact, she began to re-arrange the chairs as kids would leave and others would come in. She took over that corner and made it her personal space. It was absolutely fascinating to watch.

These glimpses of her evolving personality make me wonder at the potential inside. And they also remind me of the power of genetics. Christie was painfully shy for a long time; and so was I as a kid. I really did not emerge until high school (at least in my mind). Christie took longer. It'll be interesting to see how long Evie takes to overcome her initial shyness around people and how strong that take-charge persona becomes.

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