Connect To The Youth In Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Disneyland and Intergenerational Transmission

We've just returned from a family history trip of sorts.  My parents and all of their descendants took off last week for a great trip together to celebrate their return from being abroad for the last 2.5 years.  It was a trick to get everyone's schedules aligned, but we did it--everyone got to come.  And the destination of course was Southern California where my mother grew up and where my Grandparents lived for most of their lives.  Mom and Dad you just finished your commitments away from our family..What are you going to do next?  We're going to Disneyland! 

Me and my little sister with Grandma
and Grandpa on Main Street
Disneyland runs deep in my family like I'm sure it does in many other families.  Once or twice a year when we went to visit my Maternal Grandparents, we always had to make the trip to Disneyland.  My Grandmother had Multiple Sclerosis and was in a wheelchair from the time I--the oldest grandaughter--started walking.  So for 30 years my parents visited as often as they could and supported and helped my grandparents as much as they could.  I'm not sure if it was gratitude for my parent's help, or if it was sheer grandfatherhood that made Grandpa take us to Disneyland every time we visited.  But we sure had fun. And as hard as I'm sure it must have been for them, they always came along.  I have such great memories of them there and now it seems like they are there with us.

Not with Uncle Ken,
but Dad and Jenn this time.
So we have long standing traditions at Disneyland.  The teacups has been my favorite forever because my Uncle Ken would take us and spin us so fast we couldn't hold our heads up at all.  (The pink one without the hearts is fastest--in case you didn't know.)  And it wasn't till I was quite a bit older that I figured out what a sordid tale the actual topic of the Pirates of the Caribbean was because growing up I just knew it was my Grandpa's favorite ride.  He would put his arm around me and sing "Yo Ho Yo Ho A Pirate's Life for Me."  Last week, with all of my parent's descendants together in the same boat we sang at the top of our lungs and it felt like Grandpa was there.

But get this:  One of our family's Disneyland traditions actually almost missed me.  Apparently, my sisters all buy churros when they come out of the Haunted House because Grandpa used to always buy them for us while he was waiting with Grandma while we went on the ride.  I do remember that--now that they mention it.  But I didn't have that memory as clearly as they did.  So--thanks to my sisters, I have a fun new tradition to honor my Grandfather with. 

Mom photobombing the teenagers--the next generation.
It made me think about what gets transmitted down and what doesn't.  I'm sure there are lots of families with traditions and folklore about Disneyland.  When I was little, they didn't allow food inside the park, but now they do and I suspect it is because there are families like ours that are going to pay $3.75 per churro or eat dinner at the Blue Bayou restaurant no matter what.  Transmitting those traditions are precious--no matter what the cost and it feels so good to be connected to the past and connected to your family.  Good memories are precious, precious things.

So this year we had the youngest (yet) grandchild graduate to where she could drive on the Autopia and she took Grandma for a ride.  I totally remember how cool that was!  And we had to get my sister who is pregnant and having trouble with her sciatic nerve a wheelchair--and though that wasn't fun, it was a real joy to push her around.  We didn't have any trouble finding someone to push her and I'm glad she didn't get a motorized wheelchair.  It was like having Grandma with us there again.  It also got us a great place to view the World of Color--just like we were always happy  to have handicapped parking in front of that old massive parking lot because of Grandma's wheelchair. 

At the beginning of the line at the Tower of Terror
And just for the record, my Mom's favorite ride is the Tower of Terror--not only because she loves roller coasters, but because it reminds her of the hotels in So Cal that her Grandmother used to take her to when she was a little girl.  So next time we visit, I'll remind everyone while we are waiting in line about that part of our family history.  And in line for Soaring over California, I'll keep reminding everyone about how my Grandfather was part of the beginnings of aviation in So Cal after World War II.  

I so love this family.  And I hope we can keep transmitting that down the generations most of all.  I think we were closer on this trip and the experience was deep and rich because of our shared history there. 

Here's our newest vacation tradition--movies made from an app on my sister's iPhone.  Now life comes with a soundtrack :)


  1. Janet,

    This looks like so much fun!

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in my Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  2. Thanks Jana. I'm glad you liked it.