Christmas is a time of family and togetherness. It is on that day that we cast any family drama aside and simply cherish the company we are in. Family would drive in from all over the state to be at our house for Christmas Eve. My mom would prepare a large feast and the presents under the tree filled the entire living room. Christmas lit up the room and laughter was heard throughout the house. Children played, adults shared stories, and all was merry.
Until my parents divorced. The days of large family Christmas gatherings was gone. When my parents split up, so did the sides of the family. My brother and I had to start attending at least two different Christmas celebrations on opposite sides of town. There was still joy and laughter, but it wasn’t same.
The first Christmas after my parents divorced, my paternal grandmother knew that it would be an adjustment for everyone, but especially for us kids. My grandmother was a bit of a schemer and loved to see the looks on her family’s faces when she would surprise with something. She invited my dad to bring us over for the weekend, which was not uncommon yet still very exciting. When we arrived at her house she told us to get in the car because we had some shopping to do.
My dad didn’t think much of it and I was certainly excited as shopping was already a pastime of mine at the age of the 12. We went to JC Penny’s and my grandmother informed us that we were in a hurry and I needed a nice dress and some dress. I picked out a beautiful maroon crushed velvet dress and shiny black shoes with just a bit of a heel. I felt like a princess. My dad found some acceptable dress wear in the toddler section for my brother and we were on our way. I still wasn’t sure where, but it didn’t matter. I was wearing a beautiful new dress and high heels so wherever we went had to be amazing.
We drove downtown and parked in a high rise parking garage. It was very familiar but I still wasn’t sure. I asked if we were going to the spaghetti factory and was told no. Then I saw a huge banner cascading down the side of a building with a beautiful ballerina and instantly knew. We were going to the Nutcracker! My favorite ballet and one of the main reasons I wanted to study dance.
I watched the performance in awe. Not only were the dancers and the orchestra amazing, but my sneaky grandmother had planned this whole trip just for me. We took pictures outside the theater after the ballet and I still smile looking at that big goofy grin on my face.
My grandmother is such an amazing person. The Nutcracker is something special that we share. Every Christmas I would search for the most fantastic Nutcracker item I could find for her. Although her Alzheimer’s has erased those memories, she still smiles when I bring her a Nutcracker ornament on Christmas.