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Challenge: Gratitude & Giving

What Frozen 2 can teach us all about life, love and giving.

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I remember when Frozen the original came out. (Are we calling it Frozen One now?)

I wasn’t yet blessed with a little girl, and her older brother wasn’t old enough to go to the movies, so we didn’t have Frozen fever. But we did have the DVD, because my Nana called from Target to ask if we’d like it.

The evening we first popped it in, I must have been cooking. So instead of watching with bated breath, I caught snippets of the storyline. Flash forward three years, and the film became a staple in our home. A few years after that, we welcomed a new little Frozen fan, who asked for Elsa every morning after the big kids went to school.

My daughter is now five, and we’ve been counting down the days until the sequel premiered so we could see it with mother-daughter friends. (Unlike Elsa and Anna, neither Addy nor I have a sister, but these two make us feel like we do.)

Here’s my takeaway.

1. Nobody likes change, but it is as inevitable as the new-fallen snow.

Elsa sings:

These days are precious, can’t let them slip away
I can’t freeze this moment, but I can seize this day

Life is full of beautiful moments, then hard ones, more beautiful ones, and hard ones again. Somewhere in the middle, we grow weary. We forget to soak it in. Especially in the mothering of young children, we can get so caught up in life’s perceived hardships that we miss all of its sweetness. This lyric, in particular, stood out to me, even upon first listen. It’s a poignant reminder that, while we can’t stop time, we can stop to revel in it.

2. When all seems lost, just do the next *right* thing.

Anna finds her voice when she thinks her sister and her snowbuddy have gone to the great unknown. When it feels like hope is gone (spoiler: it never is), the only thing left is to take the next step. Put one foot in front of the other, and do the next right thing. Note it doesn’t say do any old thing, but the right thing. We have choices when it comes to our reactions to losses and disappointments in our lives. This sentiment gives our children something to hang onto as they navigate life’s twists and turns – and us parents something to say to them when they seem stuck.

3. Real love is not fragile.

As you may recall, Anna had to learn the truth about true love the hard way in Frozen One. (It’s a thing now.) So hard, in fact, she turned to ice. This time around, Kristoff is wondering if Anna’s love is wavering because he doesn’t know who he is without her, and she doesn’t know who she is without her sister. All three of them have to learn to love themselves before they can become the fully-formed people they’re meant to be. When Anna apologizes for leaving him behind, Kristoff says, “My love is not fragile.” Real love – between sisters or lovers or parents and their kids – does not break, but rather bends. It is unlike ice, and more like the wind named Gale that moves through this movie like the spirit of all things good.

And, man, was it good. I laughed the kind of laugh that makes all the other people in the theater wish you’d picked a different showing. I cried the kind of cry that makes your friend ask if you need a beer.

After we waited for the surprise scene at the end of the credits, we made our way to the restroom. In the stall next to mine, my daughter suddenly cried out, “I need you!” I rushed to her side to find the plastic ring I had given her at lunch glistening at the bottom of the toilet. As I rolled up my sleeve to fish it out, so inspired by the love I had seen on the screen, my hip hit the flusher – “Watch out for my butt!” – and that ring went … into the unknown.

But an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart, and her best friend ran over to our car just before we pulled away, placing her matching plastic ring in my hand as she said sweetly, “I wanted Addy to have this.”

On this week of Thanksgiving, so long as we’re talking about counting our blessings under an autumn sky, let us count this movie – and friends who are like sisters – among them.

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