Every once and a while, a song gets so big that it feels almost like an anthem.
And this year, the anthem goes to…. “Let it Go,” from Disney’s Frozen.
You heard it on the Oscars (and please, people, it really is time to let go of making fun of John Travolta, even though it has been fun), you may be hearing it on a Spotify playlist, the radio, coming out of the mouths of babes (girl children especially love this ditty!), or just plain old stuck in your craw, but the lyrics are intoxicating:
“Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn my back and slam the door…”
And the song goes on, reaching a crescendo from the lips of an ice princess that is ultimately accepting who she is and what she’s capable of.
“And here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let it go, let it go
The cold never bothered me anyway.”
While being left out in the cold is a reference to the plot line in the movie, that’s where the whole thing gets kind of interesting.
In some ways, clinging to something and wanting it to be how it was is reassuring. For example, I’m coming off of my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, which is a giant rite of passage as she turns from being a child to being a woman (well, a teen anyways). It’s also a significant rite of passage for a parent, because not only do you watch your child lead a service and interpret Biblical passages, but you also host a party or two or four, invite friends and family from far and wide, and generally put your heart, soul, and bank account into creating the perfect celebration.
In the preparation, there are also hours of pouring over old family photos and videos, which in and of itself make you wish you could somehow freeze your child, Disney princess-style, in a state of suspended baby animation.
And then, like everything else, it is all over in a blink. A milestone a year or 13 in the making, and before you know it, you’re dismantling sparkly displays to save a keepsake or two, putting away the books and speeches, sending the dresses and suits off to the dry cleaners, and re-stashing the old photos and videos back into the dark drawers and cabinets from which you dug them out.
In the quiet of the days following, there is much to let go of, and in times like this, shit has a tendency to get emotional.
Like any other significant event that brings multi-generations of family together — Thanksgiving, Christmas, Passover/Easter, etc. — there are things that work well, and things that work well as they can. Old stuff comes up as new stuff blossoms. And so surrounding the high hopes and expectations is the reality of how intense a high-hopes-and-expectations-fueled reunion can be.
The whole damn thing should be easy, but we humans have a tendency to complicate things and set up elaborate emotional Rube Goldberg contraptions for ourselves.
Good old Disney knew this when they made Frozen — at a big party celebrating a major life cycle event (Elsa’s coronation), her sister Anna’s brand new boyfriend Prince Hans proposes, Anna hastily says yes, and Elsa flips out and accidentally throws the whole kingdom into an eternal winter.
While I’m happy to report nobody inadvertently unleashed a magical power to screw our hometown hamlet in the process, there were admittedly some moments where control was lost. When expectations of what perfect looks like blew in like a blinding blizzard and made it hard to see what real life — with all of its beautiful imperfections — truly looks like.
So what do you do when you’re in an emotional whiteout?
Uh huh, you let it go. Oh baby, you let it go.
Clinging to a distant memory, a long-held yet unmet desire, a laundry list of what’s supposed to happen, a bar set so high so as to not be in reach… let it go.
And although a grudge match is always tantalizing, when something is too damn important to just let go, I submit this for your consideration: try a do-over.
If something didn’t go quite right in the moment, go back and play it how you’d want it to be. This is something my husband and I actually did — we rewound an important moment a couple of days later, and replayed it how it we both preferred it to have gone.
And then, we let it go. But this time from a place of true love, which makes all the difference. (Yes Disney, you win again!)
So if you see me belting one out from the rooftops, just know that there is a real peace and freedom in letting it fully go. If the “wickedly talented Adele Dazeem” can do it, so can you!
Now enjoy Idina Menzel singing, “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen: