There comes a time in every parent’s life when she must choose between a family vacation to Disney World, or Lithuania.
The decision might seem like an obvious one at first, but let me assure you it is not. I have been actively thinking about taking the family to Lithuania for a while now. The last time I visited was in 1995 – four years after independence – when they still had soldiers stamping visas behind a card table as you walked off the plane. It’s a whole different country now, with gourmet restaurants, fancy hotels, even its own scent. My friend V went a couple of years ago and got cryogenically frozen at the spa in Druskinikai, if that’s any indication of how far Lithuanians, as a people, have come.
But the biggest motivation is for my children. I want them to see that there’s a place where speaking the language I continue to yammer at them in is routine. I want them to be awestruck by medieval castles and fortresses and make the connection that they share blood ties to the people who once built and lived in them. I want to buy them an ice cream cone on the beach by the Baltic, and most of all I want to force them, for two solid weeks, to speak Lithuanian.
But even though I had pretty much decided on Lithuania (if it’s financially possible), I began to waver when my friends spoke to me of Licensed Character Dinners that needed to be purchased for Disney a full year ahead of time. Disney World is cheaper than Lithuania, there’s no language barrier, and you don’t have jet lag or a hangover when you get home. The kids are always pleading with us to go to Disney, but you never hear them clamoring for a visit to the Lithuanian Museum of Ancient Beekeeping. Everyone keeps telling me that the Disney World Appreciation Window is narrow, and next summer my kids will already be 6 and almost 9 years old. So despite my noble aspirations, I started thinking about putting the Land of my Ancestors off for another year.
But recently my little son Jonas, who you may remember as being outwardly anti-Lithuanian, said a curious thing. At first I had no idea what he was talking about because he was using run on-sentences and mixing up languages and at one point he also started to sing. But what ultimately came out of it was this:
Jonas is in the process of developing a very special pair of shoes. Sneakers so stunningly engineered, that when he wears them on “Jonas Day” in Lithuania, he will be able to propel himself over a fire with very little exertion and win the Midsummer Night’s bonfire jumping contest to great international acclaim.
Awhile back, I tried to talk up the fatherland by telling him about how they celebrate the Feast of his patron Saint, John. And it turns out that just because, at the time, my kid was staging a dramatic display of disinterest, doesn’t mean he wasn’t listening. In fact, it seems he is planning to go. Yesterday he asked me how many days we would have to fly to get there and reminded me that on “Jonas Day,” as he calls it, people stay up all night.
If you have perchance taken your children to Disney World and/or Lithuania, how old were they and how, if I may ask, did it go?Subscribe to the blog. (It's free!)