Years ago when all three of our kids were young, we found ourselves rushing from one Christmas activity to another. You’ve probably been there too. Maybe you are already rushing about right now…. Company parties, gift exchanges, shopping, cleaning, end-of-year career chores, friends’ parties, family gatherings, decorating, and lots of night school. By night school I mean the kind of night where everything revolves around something your kid is doing at school, like a choir recital, band concert, or school play.
My husband does all of these things with great enthusiasm, but I sometimes feel overwhelmed and look for nights on the calender where there is absolutely no activity written down for any of us. I love those nights. However, this particular night, I had rushed home, made dinner, and rushed back out to be at my eleven year-old step-daughter’s fifth grade Christmas play. On the way to the school, I was thinking about how far away we would have to park; I’m sure my husband was thinking about being moments away from watching his daughter on stage. When we walked into the cafeteria, which doubles as an auditorium because there is a stage at one end, I was thinking about how crowded it was and where we could sit; my friends’ shining eyes and smiles told me they were thinking about their wonderful son or daughter that was about to perform for us.
We sat and I thought about whether or not it would start on time, because it didn’t look like it would. My husband beamed and said “Hi” to a few of the other parents we knew who were seated near us. Then the principal introduced the music teacher, who told us a little bit about the performance we were going to see. I started thinking about the songs and skits, and tried to guess when my step-daughter would appear. She had a small part in one of the skits, which was really cool, and she was pretty nervous and excited about it.
That’s when it hit me: in a few minutes my step-daughter was going to come on stage as an elf, a singing and dancing elf! All of the sudden I was excited and delighted and nearly about to cry.
You see, the year before she hadn’t been well enough to go to school, or sing, or dance. She hadn’t even been well enough to get excited about Christmas. The year before, we wheeled her into the auditorium and parked her and her oxygen tank by the choir, so she could at least sit with her class while they performed. This year was different. This year, she was an elf! This year, she could sing and dance, she was excited and she would soon be performing with her entire class. And we were there to watch her. We were part of it. I don’t know how I’d been so blind the entire evening up to that point. I don’t know why I hadn’t been ecstatic all week about the chance to be parents at the fifth grade Christmas program. Wowee! Our girl is an elf!
We all lose focus on what’s important at times. Luckily for me, I found mine again in the nic of time. The students began singing songs and the skits started. A few minutes later, our little elf danced out on stage wearing her red and green elf costume and long pointed shoes that jingled and curled up at the tip. She sang and danced for a few seconds and then became part of the chorus for the other songs to be sung. Her dad clapped and clapped with tear-bright eyes; I clapped and clapped too, wiping away tears of gratitude and joy. It was the best play I’ve ever attended – and the best evening I’ve ever spent at night school.