Thursday, December 30, 2010

Good Grief [Christmas in Disney]

Instead of "Christmas in Dixie." Get it? Ha. Haha. No? Oh well. 

Gonna mellow out and get serious here for a bit, friends. But stay with me. I have a point. 

Many of you may know that I am a freelance writer and have written articles for a magazine in my hometown for several years (since my internship there in 2003, actually... wow). I write the "Mind and Body" column, and earlier this year was assigned the task to write an article about dealing with grief during the holiday season.

Honestly, it was not something I knew much about, dealing with true grief and loss. My grandparents, my dad's parents, passed away when I was a teenager, but they lived in New Orleans. I talked to them every other week or so and saw them twice a year. Sure, I grieved, and I feel a loss in their absence, but not in my everyday adult life. I miss going to New Orleans for Thanksgiving, as was our tradition, but I am past the grieving point.

So I wrote the article, relying on the advice from grief counselors, self-help books, and information online. I tried my best to empathize as I wrote sentences about wanting to skip the holidays, and with dealing with loneliness, pain, and fatigue following the death of a loved one. I offered tons of great ideas. Make a new tradition involving remembering your loved one. Don't overdo it. Just say no. Avoid excess. Easy enough, right? Little did I know, my family would be reading my article a few months later, taking the advice to heart, as we grieve a huge loss.

My grandfather, Don Pitts, died in August. He was 78. I'm not going to write an obituary here, this is not that kind of post and, frankly, not something I'm ready to share with the Internets... but I will tell you I talked to him every single day. And he was a funny, funny man. We were very close. And I never once doubted he loved me and had my back no matter what. And I feel the pain of that loss every single day, though it's a bit easier to deal with since I live a state away. My grandmother, his wife for 60+ years, is having a rough go of it, as is my mother, an only child. This is not a sob story, though. This is normal, every day grieving and loss. It's part of life. We knew it was coming. But I am thankful to have had 28 years with him. And thankful for my family and friends throughout the ordeal.

Sister and me with Grandaddy, circa 1988

So came the holidays. Thanksgiving came and went, and yes, we were sad. Though we did change things up a bit and change locations, tweaked the menu a bit. But overall, we got through it. But as we began to plan our Christmas festivities, we looked at all the advice I had so painstakingly researched and presented in the magazine article, and said... to hell with that! We're going to Disney World!

And so, yes, my sister and I, both in our 20s, along with our 74-year-old grandmother and 58-year-old mother (Dad conveniently has to work, making this an all girls' trip), just returned from Disney World. At Christmas. As in, we enjoyed Christmas Eve dinner at Epcot's Biergarten, drinking beers, eating sausage, and watching polka dancers and Christmas Night walking the streets of the Magic Kingdom, where Christmas carols abounded, as well as an actual "snow" shower. It was truly magical. And of course my first stop wasThe Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Obviously.

Needless to say, the trip was hilarious in planning. I loved telling the travel agent, after he asked the age of the youngest child going, that she was 26. I love that I was the one embarrassing my family while dorking out at WWHP, instead of the other way around, as I'm sure it was when we were kids. And I love that I know if Grandaddy can see us from where he is, that he'd be laughing his ass off right along with us.

Here's a preview. More to come. And if anyone out there wants any tips or suggestions... I'm your gal. I just returned a backpack full of well-read tour guides to the library this afternoon.

Sister and me at Cinderella's Castle, 2010

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, and cheers to a happy 2011!

1 comment:

Katie said...

Lauren, I'm sorry to hear about your granddad. I met him once and he was a very nice man. I hope you all had a great trip to Disney!! Miss you!