The Wake-up Call


It was a wake-up call.

As I write this it is the wee hours of the morning”¦the morning after the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere you certainly know what I am referring to and I’m not about to recap the events because, as it is, I am working hard to try and not let them overtake my mind, and my heart.

But I could not sleep all night, and when I did sleep, it was not peaceful. When I woke up I wanted to believe that it was a dream, a nightmare, a fabric woven by my fears, or as Charles Dickens once put it, -“¦an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato.”

But it is real; the events did take place.

When I hear of things like this I think about how many people short sell themselves by not embracing all that is wonderful in this world; all that allows us to pamper ourselves and our loved ones.

I think about how many of us who “get it” are looked upon like we have a third eye when we tell our friends we are going back to Walt Disney World or Disneyland to see Mickey and friends”¦for the 10th time in the last three years”¦. or perhaps for the 50th time in our lives.

Oh sure, we hear the snickers”¦we catch a look at the eyes rolling”¦. but at the same time, instead of feeling angry”¦or embarrassed”¦. we feel a sense of sorrow for those who don’t understand”¦who don’t realize how fragile life is”¦. or how important it is to experience tears of joy”¦instead of the tears we all shed while we listened to news reports out of Connecticut. Or in my case, tears that continue to hit my keyboard as I write these thoughts.

We don’t have much time on this rock we call Earth”¦. our time is not enough to embrace all the wonders that life brings. But when we do embrace life; we fold into that embrace those we love, those we want to share those happy, carefree times with; and most importantly ourselves.

Those moments are all too few; all too precious.

You’ve heard the phrase that “Youth is wasted on the young.” That thought originated from a mature mind who realized late in life just how important it is to celebrate life whenever possible; to stop and smell the roses so to speak; and to ride Space Mountain as much as they can.

There will be a day when they won’t be able to ride Space Mountain; when they wont be able to cool their parched throat with a Dole Whip; when they won’t be able to wonder at the colors of illuminations. Most importantly”¦not be able to hug their loved ones and tell them how much they love and appreciate them.

For those of us who “Get it” we understand how important it is for us to take time out from work, priorities, chores, and things that dominant our lives each and every day to work towards giving ourselves those special and precious moments with friends and family”¦. moments that warm our hearts, make us smile, and etch into our minds a pleasant memory that will last a lifetime.

During this holiday season I think it’s time to pray for so many people”¦for those who were touched by the events in that small town in Connecticut”¦and for those who don’t get it. In both cases there is a loss”¦. in both cases we need to feel for these people”¦. in both cases we, those of us who do get it, are reminded of how fragile life is”¦while at the same time also remember how wonderful life can be.

Don’t waste your time. Appreciate your family”¦. appreciate your life. Help those who are less fortunate than you”¦laugh as much as possible”¦. hug your loved ones every time you get a chance. Who knows what tomorrow may bring?

And if you are one of those who do “Get it” I am sure the next time you have an opportunity to visit a certain mouse, duck and other friends in Orlando or Anaheim it will mean a bit more to you to see your child hop a bit as she spots Mickey waving to her from his perch on a parade float, or you feel a sense of peace while sitting around a bench in World Showcase lagoon”¦or as I said earlier”¦enjoying that Dole Whip.

Like the latter, life is a treat that should not be ignored before it’s too late.
For those of you who “Get it””¦congratulations and your journey through life will, I’m sure, continue with the sights and sounds that were made possible from a man who said, “It’s fun to do the impossible.”

For those who do not get it”¦maybe horrific events like what happened in Connecticut will bring to the surface the realization that they need to celebrate life each day”¦and to celebrate their loved ones and what they bring to their lives.

I should be happy during this Christmas season and I know that eventually the spirit of Christmas will serve as a medicine for what ails me”¦a heavy heart for those who unfortunately must now endure a holiday season that will be forever stained by memories that will overtake their minds and hearts for the rest of their lives.

It’s a wake-up call to everyone and that includes yours truly.

We need to appreciate everyone we love and care for each other each and every day”¦and of course, to appreciate the opportunity to visit that special place where talking mice and ducks live”¦a place that helps us smile, laugh, and forget our troubles.

So let me practice what I preach and say to all my relatives, friends, and especially you who have read me for so many years, I appreciate and love each and every one of you and wish you the best during this holiday season.

I also ask that you send your thoughts and prayers to a small town in Connecticut”¦I haven’t stopped.

I am reminded of one more quote from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It was, -No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused.”

Let’s hope more people “Get it.”

Merry Christmas.


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40 Replies to “The Wake-up Call”

  1. Hi Mike,
    Just reading this today. A month and three days after the tragedy in Newtown, my hometown. Such a beautifully written blog. Your emotions are so heartfelt and so true. My husband, daugher and I visit WDW every year. Due to budget contraints we had decided to skip our visit this year. However, one evening, about a week after the tragedy, my husband looked at me and said “We are going to WDW this year. We are going to celebrate being together as a family.” Our trip is now booked and we are looking forward to making some new happy memories together. Peace.


    Thanks for the nice words Betsy.

    I apologize for not responding earlier.


  2. Tears of thanks Mike. Sent it too all my friends. Weeks later & I’m still choking up. Was at WDW during the Holidays and every so often the event flashed in my mind. Then I was surrounded by Xmas Disney hugs and “I got it”
    Merry Christmas to all.
    With much love

    * * * *

    Hi Martha,

    Sorry for the delay in responding.

    I agree


  3. Well said, Mike. My wife and I are both teachers so events like this one have particular significance in our lives. Needless to say, we and our colleagues, were deeply affected as we struggle to find a way of dealing with it all, especially trying to understand the way the media “drives” a story like this one. Your piece will help us focus on the important things in our lives and try to not be overwhelmed with negativity.

    * * * *

    Hi Dale,

    Sorry for taking so long to respond.

    thanks for the note.


  4. Mike:
    My wife and I have been blessed with two granddaughters. We have also gotten to go to WDW on their first visit. People have asked us why we go so often and my wife simply states that it is the MAGIC. I got to hold my youngest granddaughter on her first time to see wishes with tinkerbell. Now we hug a little longer and kiss there head a little more and thank GOD for them. Bless you and your family. May GOD wrap you in his arms and hold you close to His heart.

    * * * *

    Hi Phil,

    I apologize for taking so long to respond.

    I’m sure we’re all a bit more grateful for what we have these days.


  5. As I sit here in my classroom on the last day of school before break, reading your post, my eyes filled with tears. My daughter and i just returned from a Disney visit, and as I send her off to elementary school every morning with a much tighter hug than usual, I think about all of the students in her fifth grade classroom, and my 11th and 12th graders. My hope is that by the time they leave my classroom at the end of the year they all “get it? too. Thanks for a wonderful Christmas message that we should keep in our hearts the whole year.

    * * *

    Thanks Jane.

    Happy holidays.


  6. What a wonderful article, I couldn’t agree with it more. As someone who always wanted to see WDW but always came up with some excuse to not to go my husband really decided we would “just do it” in June 2011 (along with two grandchildren). Then came February 2012 and August 2012. This is where I ‘run away from home”. It’s more than a happy place. It’s a safe place where life gets back in balance. Now at 60 years of age I know where to go to recharge. Yes there are other places where I’m sure we could go, but why? I’m happy with WDW. Come February 2013 we’ll be back recharging from the holidays, bad weather and all the sad things in real life. I hope and pray that everyone finds the peace of mind that comes from a long and tiring day of mouse hunting, princess finding and pixie dust. In Tiny Tim’s words, “God bless us everyone!

    * * *

    Thanks Diane!

    Happy holidays.


  7. What a wonderful article, I couldn’t agree with it more. As someone who always wanted to see WDW but always came up with some excuse to not to go my husband really decided we would “just do it” in June 2011 (along with two grandchildren). Then came February 2012 and August 2012. This is where I ‘run away from home”. It’s more than a happy place. It’s a safe place where life gets back in balance. Now at 60 years of age I know where to go to recharge. Yes there are other places where I’m sure we could go, but why? I’m happy with WDW. Come February 2013 we’ll be back recharging from the holidays, bad weather and all the sad things in real life. I hope and pray that everyone finds the peace of mind that comes from a long and tiring day of mouse hunting, princess finding and pixie dust. In Tiny Tim’s words, “God bless us everyone!

    * * * *

    Thanks Diane


  8. Mike

    What a beautiful article. You have expressed what I’ve been feeling for quite some time but have been unable to put into words.

    My husband works in psych. For years, he’s been saying that so many geri patients tell him that they planned to to do this or that when they retired and then they became ill–either mentally and/or physically–and were unable to do anything. Enjoy life now. Live in the moment because we don’t know how much time we have. Have fun! Certainly save for tomorrow but not at the expense of living–not merely existing–today.

    I wish all of AllEars a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year. God Bless us all.


    * * * *

    Well said Shirley.


  9. Thanks for a lovely and well-written post. I will pass this along to all my friends. Disney lovers are a great group of people and I can’t wait for the magic to surround me next year. God Bless you and all the AllEars people.

    * * *

    Thank you Melinda.

    Happy Holidays!


  10. Mike,

    Extremely well written. Your thoughts have really hit home with me as my family and I have been dealing with the sudden death of my brother last month. You have very eloquently said what I have been feeling by putting life’s priorities into perspective. I am one of those who “get it” and feel very blessed every day of my life be able to look at life through these eyes. Thanks again and have a wonderful holiday season!


    * * * *

    Thank you Kris.

    Happy Holidays.


  11. So beautifully put, Mike! As both one who “gets it” and a former first grade teacher, your blog entry rings true. Each and every one of us needs to live every day. The title of my own blog, Saints and Poets Today, which I really need to update more, parallels your thoughts. The title is from a line in Our Town and the dedication is to a friend who died unexpectedly while running about two months ago. Every minute needs to be celebrated and cherished. Things can change in a moment. Thanks again for the reminder!


    Hi Sandy,

    Nice to hear from you!

    Happy Holidays!


  12. Mike,

    Although you are a Red Sox fan, and I’m Yankees fan, I always look forward to reading your thoughtful and insightful posts. 🙂 I’m a Combat Vet and in Afghanistan as I write this. I’ve lived a hard life at times and seen some terrible things that nobody should ever have to see. I’d like to think I’m a pretty tough guy when I need to be. I’ll tell you though, nothing brings me as much joy or puts a bigger smile on my face than when I walk through the gate at Magic Kingdom. I’ll be there when I come back for leave this summer. It will be my youngest childs’s first time there and I can’t wait to see her smiles, hear her laughs and feel her excitement. Nothing makes every thing better for me like Disney Magic does. Keep doing what you do. It keeps it all “fresh” for me and reminds me why I love it so much.

  13. Thanks for this, Mike. 2012 has reminded me to enjoy, appreciate, and take advantage of everything life has to offer. While still living somewhat responsibly, you need to do what makes you happy and be with people who make you happy TODAY because you don’t know how many tomorrows you will get. Thanks for putting this into words that so many of us can relate to. Happy holidays!

  14. Very well said, Mike. WDW is a wonderful place to set aside the cares of this world and spend some honest-to-goodness, uninterrupted quality time with the family. I get it. All we can do for those poor families in CT is pray. But we can be sure to make the most of every moment with our own families because none of us knows what tomorrow brings. Thanks for sharing your heart in this blog.

  15. Thank you for your words & insight. Very well stated & your feelings are shared with many. God Bless the USA!!!


    Thank you Vickie,


  16. this horrible event happened while we were @ the HAPPIST PLACE ON EARTH. your words could not have been more well written . in addition to family & friends ALWAYS remember the ” TIMS”


    Thanks Dusty,

    Merry Christmas


  17. beautiful words, I get it too. Maybe just maybe, trips to WDW for all the surviving families will start the healing process for the siblings and parents. A good memory could start to wipe out the bad. just sayin, it could be a magic time for them.



    I’m sure the healing process will take a long time.


  18. Very well said, Mike. I have always enjoyed your insights on the WDWtoday podcast, but I find you even more thoughtful in your blog posts. I was lucky enough to take my children to the World many times when they were young and now look forward to sharing “my happy place” with my young grandson. My husband and I believe that yes, life and childhood is too short and we must cherish every moment for who knows what tomorrow will bring. I wish you peace and joy in this holiday season and healing for those families who are in such pain.


    Thank you for the kind words Eileen.

    Happy Holidays,


  19. Thank you for your thoughts Mike. This was a very well written piece directly from your heart. I always justify our trips to Disney with the very same mindset – life is too brief and the kids will only be young for such a short time. It has been a blessing to be able to take our family to Disney each year and watch my two boys as they went from waiting to meet the characters and taking naps in the stroller to braving Big Thunder Mountain for the first time to now where they ride Everest three or four times in a row! Such wonderful memories that could all be gone tomorrow. Today I hug them a bit tighter and love them a bit more (if that is possible) and hold Walt forever in my heart for providing such wonderful family times!

    * * * * * *

    Thanks for sharing Heidi,


  20. Mike, that is SO beautifully put, and explains both exactly how I feel about the CT tragedy, and about my love for WDW.

    My Mom passed away in 2000 at age 51 of a heart attack in her sleep. I realized then that life is short and Tomorrow is not promised. I was afraid to travel solo before, but since have made 5 trips to WDW alone and with friends and family, and have also flown alone to FL to visit family. I’m legally blind, and my Mom would’ve been apprehensive about letting me go alone, If she’d lived I never would have been so adventurous. But I also never would’ve met some terrific friends, or traveled to events like Super Soap Weekend (may it RIP) and Reunion 2011. WDW truly is a Happy Place and lets us put aside the troubles of the outside world for just a little while. If I can’t get there, I listen to Disney podcasts like WDW Today and others. It gives me a little bit of peace in an otherwise chaotic world. I hope that those affected by the tragedy in CT are able to find some of that peace.

    Merry Christmas to you, and thank you for doing what you do.

    * * * * * *

    Thank you for the kind words and for sharing your thoughts Lisa.

    Merry Christmas,


  21. Very well said. Thank you. We’ll be visiting over Christmas so that we can spend that quality time remembering the good things in life and enjoying the times together that are all too short.

    * * * *

    Thanks Carolyn,


  22. As I read this to my husband, I had to stop a few times because I could not continue reading. You have put into words many of the things I am feeling. I know I will try even harder to stop sweating the small stuff, it doesn’t really matter. We “get it” and have many of our happiest memories from WDW. I pray for those families in Newtown and share in their pain.

    * * * *

    Thank you for sharing Chris,


  23. Dear Mike
    As one of those who”gets it”, you latest post really was wonderful and well put. After just bawling my eyes out because one of my beloved cats just knocked over the Christmas tree and broke a precious memory, my best friend reminded me”it can be fixed” and the memory is still there in my heart. I think I cried mostly for all those memories the folks in will never share now, as much a my poor tree, but you post reminds me of what is truly important.
    Meet Christmas to you and yours,I look forward to your posts in the coming New Year!

    * * * * * * *

    Thank you Christie,


  24. Beautiful post, Mike. I have experience the rolling eyes and the comments and I have felt sorry for those who I know do not have a open heart. When I am home in NJ, I listen to my CD of “Wishes” and I get teary-eyed every time the Blue Fairy tells us to all make a wish.

    Today, Blue Fairy, I wish for peace and healing for all those people in the world whose internal pain and closed heart is making them consider acts of violence.

    * * * *

    Thank you Karen,


  25. You brought tears to my eyes when i really thought I had cried them all. Disney is, and always will be my happy place. It is a place where I know smiles will be in abundance. It is a comfort to me knowing that the outide world is kept out and I am immersed in nothing but happiness.
    We can’t keep bad things from happening, and may God bless those that have suffered. My heart, thoughts and prayers are with them. But I know that I am seeing the world with different eyes this morning. I know the next time I walk under the Train Station at MK, the tears that always fall will be mixed with happiness and sadness for the children and families whom will never again experience pure happiness again. Beatiful post Mike

    * * * * *

    Thanks Christine,


  26. Sad sad times – but Wow!! Don’t feel there is anything I can add to this article except I feel so lucky because I BELIEVE I GET IT and I appreciate that!! No-one knows what is around the corner so don’t live in the past or the future but live for the moment. Merry Christmas x

    * * * * *

    Thanks Ruth.


  27. As I was beginning to read your blog, I thought, how nice to read a heartfelt letter from someone at Disney.
    Then I kept reading the references to disney land and how the “fortunate” have visited and will visit again.
    Although I am not one of the “fortunate”, I do hold dear the time I get to spend with my two grandsons each and every day. I will go up to them at any time of the day and just hug them, kiss them on the cheek and tell them how much I love them. I am one of the “blessed” to be able to do that.
    I know what your blog was trying to do, but I think any reference to the disney park should have been left out of this.
    One blessed grandmother

    * * * * *

    Hi Debbie,

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    I can understand and appreciate your feelings.

    I hope that someday you become one of the “fortunates”
    one day and enjoy the parks with your grandsons.

    Merry Christmas.