The Best Gift Ever

by Kate on December 27, 2020

My new attitude: gratitude. As the new year commences, I’m going to be more grateful. See how I said that? With conviction! With assurance! With umph? It’s my way of tricking my mind that I actually WILL be more grateful, not aspire to be more grateful. Because that’s where New Year’s resolutions always fail me…in the attempt. Kinda like the wisdom from Yoda…”There is no try, either do. Or do not.”

My 4-year-old has a unique way of expressing herself. She seems to embody newness. Like when we went to tea at a fancy hotel and the hostess brandished a crown for the “princess.” My girl turned to me and said, “it’s so nice she knew I am a princess!” Her gratitude was genuine and completely heartfelt. Yet she amazed me with her assurance that she should be given a crown - she is a princess after all - and how nice of other people to acknowledge that. She owned it.

That’s when it struck me that gratitude is deeper than saying thanks or even feeling thankful.

When I was my daughter’s age, my mother took me to see my first performance of the Nutcracker. I have no actual memory of that first time really. Rather, I have a volume of memories, all stacked on top of each other, of every Nutcracker I’ve seen from then till now. How the Christmas tree grows and grows; the tinkling of the snow as it falls and swirls around the air on the ballerinas fluttering bodies; the booming Russian dancers bursting about in impossible circles. And don’t get me started on the Sugar Plum fairies!

We would attend, my mother, my sister and me. Each year. Every year. Until we didn’t. First my sis moved for college and found her home far away from New Orleans. Then I did. And the tradition faltered.

Until this year. My mom called me and asked if I was going to the Nutcracker. No, I told her. I didn’t think it’d work out. Timing, naps, blah blah blah. I had been wanting to take my daughter the minute I found out I was pregnant but I knew I had to wait until she was old enough. Somehow, in the waiting, I convinced myself that my baby was still a baby, that she couldn’t possibly be old enough to go to the ballet because she couldn’t possibly be growing! Nope. Still my baby. Next year. Maybe.

I could hear the disappointment. Mothers are like that. Even in silence they speak loudly. And all around town I kept seeing the Nutcracker posters. If the Nutcracker is playing in your town you know what I mean. They are everywhere - on the buses, in the dry cleaner, the grocery store. It was like something was whispering for me to just go already.

Then, I heard Tchaikovsky on the radio and I did it. I bought tickets.

The entire performance I watched my daughter watch the ballerinas. Her whole body was focused on the stage, she sat as still as I’ve seen her sit. Only her little hand by her side was twirling in time with the music. And I knew. She was dancing inside as much as I have done all these years.

And in those 3 hours, I saw through my 40 year old eyes both the child that I’ve been and the child that I now have. I felt the love of my own mother, how she must have watched me, as I watched my girl’s imagination be sparked by the magical music and dance.

I felt a deep sense of tradition. Of keeping families alive through generations by a simple act. The Nutcracker. It was by far one of the best presents I have ever received and it took re-gifting it to fully understand.

So that’s the spirit that I’m facing in the new year: gratitude. And hey, I’m starting off on the right foot, right? I mean, I’m already grateful and the year hasn’t officially even started.

Wooo hooo.

photo credit: ~*Bomba Rosa*~

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Penny W. December 27, 2020 at 12:22 pm

Oh to have a daughter to take to the ballet!

I took my son to see The Nutcracker one year. Just once. He liked it well enough, I suppose, but there was no real connection to it for him. The part he clapped the loudest and smiled was during the long and energetic curtain calls! I think he may have just been glad it was over.

Next time I’m taking the neighbor’s daughter! heh heh

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