Last night I had the opportunity to take my kids to see Disney on Ice: Let's Celebrate! The tickets were free, and as free is my love language, I made plans to take our girls (my husband, who eschews all things Disney, opted to stay home and work).
Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with Disney. As a kid, I visited Disney World twice and loved it. Those were also the days when nobody owned movies then (anyone remember having to rent a VHS player from the video store?), so it was a special treat to get one from Disney and wish upon a star (metaphorically speaking, of course).
Today, the Disney brand represents different things to different people (last night, it represented the Almighty Dollar served up on a platter---or, that is, an overpriced plastic bag of cotton candy with Mickey's ears attached). Personally, I want my kids to experience the spectacle and wonder Disney offers in its well-done productions, but I grow weary of having to give my kids a pep talk on our way to these events about how we're not going to buy the $12 whirligig with Cinderella painted on it, nor are we planning to shell out $15 for a box of popcorn, regardless of how much fairy dust is sprinkled inside.
But what message do I send my kids when I take them anyway and smile as Mickey pops out of the birthday package, ready to party? And what message do I send when I, as one of thousands of people walking past a homeless guy who has set up camp across the street from the Scottrade Center hoping for a buck or two, walk by and ignore him? (I saw at least 30 people pass by with their $12 souvenirs from the evening, but only saw one family make a donation. Full disclosure: We didn't give anything, either, probably because I was so surprised we made it out alive without having spent any money that I wasn't about to part with it then.
Last night, we learned that the key to "happily ever after" can be had with a simple "bibbity boppity boo!" (I wonder how many struggling marriages were in the audience last night in which one partner or the other was desperately wishing, "If only that were really so.")
While many families probably drove home last night delirious from the excitement, I confess I made the short journey in contemplation. Could there really be something to two hours' worth of forgetting about one's tough circumstances, complete with overpriced trinkets and snacks? Maybe.
But what happens when families go home and wake up in the morning and wonder what happened to their own "happily ever after"? What does Disney offer them then? What can magic do for a sin-weary soul? Little more than a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.