Saturday, December 15, 2007
When I was a little girl, growing up in Chicago, we had a number of Christmas traditions. We would visit The Museum of Science and Industry to see Christmas Around the World and pick out a new holiday ornament, view the holiday window display at Marshall Field's on State Street, and watch the lighting of the great Christmas tree in Daley Plaza.
But, honestly, the tradition that holds a special place in my heart was going to see a production of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. I remember sitting in the balcony, peering down at the orchestra pit, feeling the magic of the season and watching the story unfold. I was mesmerized.
So, this year, I realized that Gillian, my little baby, is growing up. She's old enough now to sit quietly in the theatre, use her manners when needed, and understand a story told entirely by music, dance, and emotion.
Last night was the night. Her first step into mini-adulthood. We saw The Nutcracker.
Earlier in the week, she considered her clothing options, picked out a 'grown-up' skirt, and, last night, asked for 'fancy' hair. My heart hurt to see this maturity, but I was so proud. We arrived at the theatre, she was on fire with excitement. We found our seats, in the balcony, and she peered down at the orchestra pit. Memories.
Then, she noticed a little boy sitting directly behind us. He, too, was 'fancied' up with a little tie and jacket. Gillian made goo-goo eyes at him until the production began. And at the Intermission. And after every curtain call. And,yes, she was completely captured by the story, held by the fight of the Mouse King with the Nutcracker, in awe of the Waltz of the Flowers and the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy. She swayed to the music, clapped, and shouted 'Bravo!' whenever she could...all the while looking sideways at that adorable little boy.
Now, I am a mess of emotion. My little girl is growing up. She's beginning to have complex feelings about life...and she's asking thoughtful questions about love. I am proud, and scared, and unsure of this new territory. It's a beautiful thing when you see the wheels turning in your child's head. But I am a bit lost.
I haven't asked for anything this year, but I realize now that there is something I need. My Christmas wish is for the strength and wisdom to guide her down a path that will help her become the confident, caring person that I know lives inside her soul.
I hope someone's listening.