Normally it wouldn't bother me--I am a pro at budget shopping and finding something that is fun and usually free to do. But it seems like Disney, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, and a few others have all teamed up to taunt me mercilessly about what great deals they have this year. Since we are totally living paycheck to paycheck even those great deals are way out of our reach. Since I have a roof over my head, and food in the fridge, I know it's a first world problem...but since the very little "extra" cash I have now and then inevitably gets donated to the food bank or a disaster fund, I am giving myself the ok to bitch just a little bit.
We've gone to Disney every year for the last five for two reasons (besides the obvious "it's fun!") The first is that for folks who have a hard time saving they have an online payment plan if you book it through them. You put down a couple hundred bucks, and then you can make payments every now and then until about two months before your departure date...now I should mention, this doesn't really save you a huge amount, because you're staying either at the parks or at a Good Neighbor hotel...but it does make it easier to pay a little at a time and lock in your dates way in advance. The second reason started out completely selfish on my part: Disney is incredibly celiac-friendly! They have gluten free buns, pasta, brownies, cookies...depending on which resort (Disney World or Disneyland) and which hotel, I can find dozens of things to eat at any given hour, and that is a part of vacation that is more magical than any ride or fantasy faire! Since Punkgirl is now gluten free as well, I can make off like I'm going there to make it easier for her to eat...but we both know who the foodie is.
We started going to Disney on our 10th anniversary in 2008. It was going to be a once in a lifetime trip, so we took the kids, flew to CA to visit Coffeguy's brother and his five kids, and then spent 7 glorious days at the Grand Californian, a masterpiece of luxury and craftsmanship. It was such an amazing trip we started planning immediately for the next one. We've done both DW and Disneyland, as well as a cruise aboard the Dream, all of which were incredible adventures that allowed us to be the people we have hiding inside of us. Happyboy, who loves to wear girls' clothes, was 5 and rocked a wig and a fairy tutu for 7 days, without one negative word said to him by the cast members at Disneyland. It was heartwarming and magical. Last year, when Punkgirl was going through her worst depression ever, we decided after much deliberation to go on the trip anyway. After two days she was back to the girl we knew and loved, laughing with her brother, ditching her lowered baseball cap for a jaunty mad hatter headband. Even my mother, who hates to leave home, was wooed by its whimsy and romance. It is my favorite place in the universe.
All of which makes the impossibility of going this year (and maybe next year, and the next) so much harder to bear. I want to shed these four walls for the bright outdoors of the Magic Kingdom, I want to be thrilled away from my worries on Splash Mountain or the Indiana Jones ride, I want to soothe away my sorrows with a Dole Pineapple Whip. I want to watch my kids be themselves, go with the flow, dance to unheard music, and I want to hear them laugh that unfettered laugh that comes with true freedom. There are no chores in the MK, no homework, no bills staring at me--oh, I know they'll be there when we get home, but while we're there they don't exist. Even on what we call our "peasant days", where we go through Disney spending not one dime.
So I guess when I say I'm thinking a lot about money, I'm really thinking about not having to think about money. Not a novel problem, I know, and there are lots of others who have it worse off than we are...but I'm looking sullenly at a pile of toys in the living room, which I know will have to be cleaned, dried, and put away; and a load of dishes in the sink that need to go into the dishwasher, but that can't until said dishwasher is unloaded...and a pile of laundry that needs to be washed. They're taunting me too. "No vacation for you," they say. "No running away."
Drats. Foiled Again.