***I waited to write this post until all Nutcracker performances were done lest I inadvertently send bad juju. Performances are complete and I maintain my position as a good citizen***
This is my youngest daughter during last year’s performance of the Nutcracker. This the first year in 14 years that I have not been running my children to some kind of holiday practice performance. During the Christmas season it was our tradition to do a community theatre performance of Scrooge, which was a lot of fun…initially. They also did the Christmas pageant at church and various other productions. They have always enjoyed performing and we have always enjoyed watching them. But all of this fun can take a toll on you. At one point, the child pictured here was running from one practice to another to yet another. But as her sisters have grown and changed their interest, so has she. This year she gave it all up. No Scrooge. No Pageant and most importantly, no Nutcracker. THANK YOU, God!
For anyone who has been in/or has been the parent of someone in a dance school’s version of Nutcracker, I probably don’t need to explain the image below. But if you have not, let me use a phrase one of my friends uses…”things go Nutcrackers.” It is an intensely stressful time where we separate the prima’s from the ballerina’s and the parents who are “all in” from those of us who just want to provide an opportunity to dance. We are harshly judged if we are not able (or don’t desire) to sew the costumes, work on props, do a proper ballerina bun, apply makeup to make our innocents look like Lolita or to buy yet another pair of expensive tights or pointe shoes.
Me: “I can usher, does that help?”
Them: “Do you understand what it at stake?”
Me: “Um, my soul? Because that is the only reason I can see in devoting my time to this.”
They turn away in disgust, I am a lost cause. I’m one of those moms. (By the way, no pressure dads…it’s all on the mom’s in this one!)
In the meantime…through all of this craziness, Advent is lost. Out the window. NUTCRACKER!! At all times NUTCRACKER!!
We are in our third week of Advent…the week we proclaim JOY! Our savior is about to come! The promise of God is about to be kept but here is what we experienced:
…understandably angry and exhausted dancers. Now, don’t get me wrong, the performances were always magical, the children beautiful, the production top-notch. I understand that there needs to be a little bit of crazy in order to pull all of these kids together and create a smooth production. I never know how it happens and I am always amazed. My only point is that Joy is lost. Advent is lost.
My daughter would have continued to dance, and I would have continued to encourage her and perhaps invested more, if there had been more joy.
Example: Recently, same daughter and I were at a fabric store picking up fabric to create a scenic village in our house for Christmas. This daughter is in charge of the village. This was something that we didn’t have any time to do in these past couple of years because of dance. She ran into a friend of hers from dance and they were talking and the girl was complaining about the intensity of the schedule.
They chatted away and the mother came over and said to my daughter, “So what are you doing now that you don’t dance.” My daughter replied, “Relaxing” and the mother said sarcastically, “Well what do you do to stay active and keep busy so you just don’t sit on the couch and eat pretzels“ (because this is the only other option) my daughter just looked from one to the other and trying not to laugh at the aggression said, “umm…homework…”
We are not normally a family who feels we need to justify but this was a red flag moment. IS she trying to embarrass my daughter or me or what?
So I turned and said, “Actually, she is experiencing a life outside of dance (insert chuckle). She just finished a season of tennis with her sister, a Masque (drama club) production with her sister and she works with me at church. There are a ton of extracurricular activities out there.” Her daughter said, “See Mom.” (She had already mentioned that she didn’t want to dance anymore but her mother wants her too) but the mother insisted that there wasn’t anything else where they were. Okay, not my battle…but leave my daughter alone, please.
I got my order and bid them good luck in the show. The mother was a little snowy, that’s okay, because as we were walking away, daughter said,
“She’s one of the cellar moms”
“The cellar moms?”
“Yes, she sews and they gossip. I was stuck down there with them one day for 45 minutes.” LOL! Not no more! Bring me some JOY!
So here we are, more relaxed than usual…spending more time together…not rushing from one thing to another and having energy to focus on the point of this season. Do I see God present in the Nutcracker performances…yes. Do I see God present in the dance program…yes. But, am I sad that we don’t have to sacrifice the whole season for it anymore…nope. Not one tiny bit. The gift that my daughter gives me whenever she does anything is just what I want at that time. It doesn’t matter what it is. A batch of beautifully baked Molasses cookies is just as precious as four-day Nutcracker performance. Because it is her, of her and from her, done with JOY.
That is the spirit of the season.
Does this sound at all familiar to you? How do you find yourself the week before Christmas?
Today I light my candle of joy
I light it for a world that is confused by business.
I light it for a world in desperate need of your joy.
I light it in the hope that you will enter my heart so
that people may feel your presence in me.