To celebrate Christmas this year I dressed up as the famous Disney princess Elsa and made dreams come true!
Last weekend, my work put on a gigantic holiday event starring their students. They call it Sports Day. The experience was the most memorable part of this holiday season for me this year.
Just to see the look on some of the kids faces reminded me of the joy make believe characters can bring to your life. Can you remember the moment you met your favorite hero or Disney character growing up?
Even though I was 26 years old when I finally went to Disney Land and met my favorite Disney princess, I was still so starstruck! My epic first trip to Disney Land was actually one of the last memorable things my boyfriend and I did before we embarked on this crazy journey. Living abroad hasn't been easy especially now when I would normally be enjoying time off with friends and family. Have you ever had to spent the holidays away from your loved ones?
The truth is that I expected to forget about American holidays while living in Taiwan, but to my surprise they sing Christmas songs and stuff stockings full of chocolate too! Most Taiwanese people don't exactly know the meaning behind WHY Christmas exists. But like many American holidays and traditions, the Taiwanese have adopted this one too (or at least the commercial side of it)!
For the epic Sports Day event, students and staff from all eight MacMillan branches in Kaohsiung came together. For three hours we celebrated with elaborate performances, songs, and games. This MacMillan tradition happens only every two years. With over 2,000 young kids and their families participating, they have to rent out a freaking track and field to host the event!
There were numerous fun marching and dance performances from the students. They use many props ranging from beach balls and drums, to ribbons and even parachutes!
After witnessing the weeks and months of preparation these young children endured to put on this production, it was an honor to watch the final masterpiece unfold.
Dozens of the school’s foreign teachers dressed as characters and heros ranging from Batman to Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Buzz and Woody from Toy Story, and even Barbie and Ken. There were also four, or maybe it was five, Santa Clauses to add some holiday cheer!
For all the trouble the school went through to have our costumes shipped from across the country, we had a very VERY small part in the event. After our initial entrance and partner introductions, our job was to sit in the stands the next several hours until the final dance.
The front row seat was one perk about being a disney character. But sitting down didn't really happen as daring parents started trickling over to request a picture with Elsa. I couldn't say no to these eager adorable faces!
When I finally did sneak away I took advantage of the perfect opportunity to snap some photos of all the excitement.
My favorite event was the running races a select few kids starred in. Some truly ran their heart out, while others just sort of skipped down the lane lol.
I felt like I was at a real track and field event as teachers, parents and staff gathered around yelling “ji-yo!”. The winners received some pretty legit medals!
When it was time for our final (and only) dance, the foreign teachers made their way down to the track and took their place. My biggest fear was that during the dance my hefty Elsa wig would come flying off my head and spoil the dreams of thousands of gleamy eyed kids.
I had spent over three hours that morning untangling the long fake hair and getting it to just barely stay on my head (but I won’t go into this rant).
Dressing up as Elsa sounded like harmless fun when my boss initially asked me to play the role, but little did I know what I was getting myself into. At the beginning of the event I did have a lot of fun waving and smiling to the thousands of adorable kids. But then shit got real.
As soon as they had permission to take pictures with the characters, hundreds of parents and kids sprinted towards me! They surrounded me with cameras and phones, trampling over my long blue dress pinning me to the ground. Whoa! After two failed attempts to ditch the pile of kids and start a more civilized line for pictures, a thought popped into my head... I did NOT sign up for this! Get me the @u*k out of here!
Let me make it clear that I love the kids. But I sometimes get crowd anxiety. Add that in with all the parents yelling at me to look at their phone and pick up their kid, and it was a bit much.
There were two things saved my life and calmed me down long enough to enjoy this rare celebrity like moment. First, I activated my deep Ujjayi yoga breathe and was able to mute my anxious inner voice. I begun to think, I can and will survive this battle! And with every deep breath, I was able to swoop up another kid.
The second thing I did to calm down, was desperately scan the crowd for my boyfriend Ryan. We would make eye contact for split second. Each time, his acknowledgement gave me the simple reassurance that I hadn't been swallowed up by kids.
Regardless of all I went through, I'm grateful I had the honor of making so many kid’s dreams come true. I know it sounds corny. But if you had seen some of the priceless looks we teachers in costumes got, you would have thought awwww too! Several three year olds stopped dead in their tracks when they spotted me sitting down in the stands. They couldn’t stop starring with big bright eyes. It made the struggle all worth it.
Have you ever had a moment of panic that you later realized was a blessing? Being smothered by a million kids was that moment for me. I managed to keep a smile on my face in the midst of the chaos. My cheeks started cramping from keeping a constant smile all afternoon! That’s how I know I did a damn good job.
This year I'll be working on Christmas, but I wouldn't have it any other way. After all, it's the kids that really give this holiday it's soul. And for me, teaching kids has been an amazing experience that’s really opened up my goofy, carefree inner child.
The truth is, being Elsa led me to be smothered with love this holiday season. I got so caught up in the moment of the elated children surrounding me the time flew by and the other teachers had to drag me off the field. I could have kept lifting up kids and saying, “Hello I’m Elsa, what’s your name?” all day.
I Challenge You to Give 20-Minutes of Service this Holiday Season.
You don’t HAVE to dress up as Elsa, although I guarantee you’d be a hit! But maybe you just take 20 minutes this year to play with the kids at your family holiday get together. Or maybe you offer a big smile and say, “happy holidays,” to each and every person you pass by on the streets. You never know who needs it. Positive energy is SO powerful and will come back to you. Especially when it’s genuine and radiating with love.
How You Can Spread the Christmas Spirit:
- Stay 100% present and loving for 20-minutes at a holiday party. Greet each person with a warm smile and big hug (even if they are that annoying cousin) and genuinely ask how they are doing.
- Go for a walk around an area of your community where the homeless are and offer them a kind holiday greeting. As a bonus, gift them bags full of candy, a new toothbrush, or even some of that nail polish you never wear anymore.
- 20-minute skype or phone call to a family member who is alone or for whatever reason can’t be with the family this year.