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Local Disneyland story 12-25-07


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  • Local Disneyland story 12-25-07

    Disney tickets they have, but not transportation or hotel
    12/24/07 15:14:39

    It's too late to grant Susan Reams' Christmas Day wish. Her dream? Take her son to Disneyland.

    Reams, mother to Joshua, age 9, called me to see whether I had any ideas on raising money for a trip to the Happiest Place on Earth.

    Me? Fairy Godmother? I don't have that kind of power. But this is Christmas, and magic has been known to happen this day.

    The single parent finds herself in a good news/bad news situation.

    The good news is that she won tickets to Disneyland several months ago from a local radio station. The bad news: She doesn't own a car or have the money to pay for a two-day hotel stay or meals. Reams estimates it would cost $600 for the trip. And the tickets expire in March.

    "It's been Josh's dream to go to Disneyland since kindergarten," Reams says. "I just think it would be so wonderful to take him there. It's an experience so many children have had."

    Reams, who turns 40 on Saturday, last visited Disneyland 20 years ago.

    "I remember it cost about $25, and at the time, it seemed like so much money," she says. "I went with friends, and I remember the pure joy of just feeling like a child."

    I spoke to Reams over the phone and didn't want to give her false hope.

    "I wouldn't expect anyone to give you $600," I told her.

    But, that's me. I'm a realist.

    Reams understands. She and Josh were bell-ringers for The Salvation Army kettle this month.

    "We have been doing this since Josh was 3," she says. "Donations have been scarce. This year seems harder for people to give."

    This duo also wrapped Christmas presents at a senior center.

    "I do give back to my community," Reams says. "I do my part."

    The Reamses, who live in an apartment, have holiday traditions: hanging stockings and making a gingerbread house on Christmas Eve to leave out for Santa. But that's it for family traditions. Her parents live in Washington state; her stepbrothers and stepsisters live in other parts of the country. Joshua's father, Reams says, lives "somewhere in Florida."

    "We're alone here," the Mountain View native says. "My parents live so far that we aren't close. They are on limited incomes themselves."

    While she'll admit to "some hard breaks in life," Reams stays optimistic. "You can't let hardships overcome you," she says. She tries to focus on the positive.

    "Sometimes, Josh will wonder why we don't have a car or live in a house," she says. "The other day, we were riding the bus and saw the homeless children at the Convention Center. I showed him the article in the paper. He said, 'Wow, we have a home.' He was grateful for that."

    She describes Josh, who is home-schooled, as an avid reader. In fact, his picture appeared in The Bee in 2006 with a story on the The Big Read read-a-thon.

    "He devours books," she says. "When I was going to Fresno City College, he could read my books. I don't mean to brag, it's just that I'm so proud of him. Reading is his main hobby. That and Hot Wheels."

    He's also an animal lover. In July, he wrote a letter to the editor, asking people to spay or neuter their pets: "Yesterday, my mom found a beautiful cat, but it was very sick. I am very sad for this cat, and I worry about it, too."

    Reams calls Joshua "The J Man" and says he shows his love in simple ways.

    "He'll make me a sandwich, give me a hug or show me a leaf he thinks is pretty," she says. "Josh shows me he loves me in a zillion different ways."

    Today, Christmas Day, it will be just the two of them at home.

    "He bought me a present, and I bought him a present. We will exchange gifts and then go for a walk. It's not totally extravagant, but who really needs that?"
    The reporter can be reached at

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