Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Reliving Wonderful Memories Amid the Cold....

Last March Break, when we went to Disney, I started a tradition for our family. I keep a “Doodle Diary” in my small sketchbooks when I am at trade shows sometimes... little cartoon snippets of the days and events. I began a new Family Doodle Diary for our trip to Disney and it was something that the girls loved to read and reread over the past year. The second entry in that special Doodle Diary was this year’s trip to Myrtle Beach and I am just getting caught up on the entry for Saturday (our traveling home day) tonight.

While they have been pouring through all of the pages, last Wednesday is certainly one of my longest doodle entries... and also their favourite to review. I wish that I had had blog access down there to share all my excitement the following day instead of almost a week later, but the thrill still remains. Thanks to Diane Merlock who attended the retreat and her husband, Randy, we were ROYALLY treated to an evening of enchantment and magic at MEDIEVAL TIMES in Myrtle Beach. It was truly an evening that none of my family will ever forget!

For those of you who have never heard of this franchise, the premise is a fantasy-lover’s dream come true. You drive up and park in front of a castle (I am told they are each a bit different) and cross into a world of wonder. The girls were a bit afraid of the two guards at the front door until a lovely wench called them “princesses” and led us into the ticketing area where we had our photos snapped, got our seating assignment and crowns to help us identify which knight we would be cheering for at the tournament. We then walked into a Great Room, complete with murals, banners, gift shop and bar areas amid suits of armour and tapestries. My girls looked ready to burst... and I could feel the “perma-grin” setting in on my face, just like the first day at Disney. Erin, being at that gruesomely curious age, just had to take a tour of the Dungeon and torture equipment with Nick. Bethany went along to prove she “wasn’t a baby”, but my Mom, John and I decided to quench our thirst at the bar. I also spied a wonderful stuffed dragon that I just HAD to add to my collection! The girls were in the midst of telling me all about the torture equipment when the Master of the Hunt wandered by in wonderful leather armour with a REAL falcon on his arm! Every so often, the trumpets would sound and the Chancellor (with a wonderful voice that could melt honey) would announce the evenings details. Diane had warned me that something special lay ahead... but you can imagine my surprise when I was called forward to kneel before the King and be knighted a Lady of the Realm!! Talk about fun!! Obviously word had spread about how heroically I defended Teresa, Queen of the Borders, in Nashville!!

The King and his lovely daughter (who was dressed in finery that had both my girls drooling to play dress-up) retired to the dining hall and the Chancellor began to tell which groups could enter after them. When he asked us to show our enthusiasm, our yellow & red group let out a mighty roar (thanks in part to Nick’s loud bass and my two girls trying to scream their heads off) that earned us the respect of the realm and the chance to enter the hall third. Had I had my full voice instead of a croak, we might have entered even sooner!

Not only would our seats have made a hockey fan jealous (center ice), the girls were thrilled to find pennants to wave at all our places. This did cause a few moments of concern for eye-poking and nostril twanging until they got settled in their chairs, somewhat puzzled at the large oval of sand that lay before us. “Where is the screen?” Bethany asked me in one of those loud, little kid whispers. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself. Was she ever in for a surprise!! Our serving wench treated them like little princesses and explained that they would be eating the whole meal with their hands... can you imagine the grin on their faces?? Then the show started and every single one of us was swept away into a world of chivalry and honour. The story was far more intricate and riveting that I had even dreamed it could be... the sight and sounds of swords clashing and lances shattering as horse and knight thundered towards each other was SO inspiring that it made my fingers want to twitch and sketch.

We cheered ourselves almost hoarse (well, I was already there!) encouraging our wonderful knight...I could see the stars begin to twinkle in both my daughters eyes as they got caught up in the pageantry of this hero on a horse. When our knight kissed one of the flowers and tossed it to Erin, I saw that first glimpse of hero worship that will no doubt cross her face many times in the years ahead for movie stars, singers and cute boys. Not that much later in the evening, our knight won a token from the fair princess and galloped back to Bethany where he lowered his lance to let her slide the token off. Her eyes were the size of dinner plates... and shinning with the excitement and magic of it all. She is taking the “scarf” (which our knight autographed after the performance) to Show and Tell at daycare this Friday and only grudgingly let it out of her sight for Erin to take it in on Monday to show her friends.

There are just TOO MANY wonderful memories from that evening... from Bethany saying “Look, Mommy! The horses are tap dancing!” when the four horses and knights do some fancy footwork.... and reassuring her that the “dragon meat” (chicken) is not a GOOD dragon that we are eating...to the sigh of contentment from the back of the van as Erin whispers “My friends are not going to believe it when I tell them about this!”

I smiled into the darkness... reluctant to let that magic go and come back into this century. That feeling still lingers almost a full week later.

Thank you Diane and Randy for giving us all such wonderful memories and surpassing our expectations of what Medieval Times are all about!!

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