One of the fondest holiday memories I have is the year that I got to go back to my hometown early enough in December to get to attend the ballet as my father’s date. Most years, my husband and I would roll into town a couple of days before Christmas, and “The Nutcracker” would have already had its run, but one year I got lucky.
I think about how special it must have been for my dad. My dad grew up poor, and when I say poor, I mean dirt-poor. His parents worked hard. His mom always had a side-hustle, and they taught him a work ethic that is unlike any other person I have ever known. I feel like going to the ballet was a sign that he had entered into a new socio-economic class. Dirt-poor people don’t typically go to the ballet, but because he and my mom had worked multiple jobs for DECADES, he had finally entered into a place where he could afford two tickets to see a beautiful show. I remember dressing up. I remember my dad being dressed up. I remember walking into the big Civic Center. I remember finding two seats in the foyer so that we could people-watch before and after the show. He didn’t want our experience to end. I remember my dad being so happy, and I remember being so happy. When you are the oldest of five, one-on-one time with a parent is even more special.
Fast forward to Christmas 2019, I was able to return back to my hometown early enough to catch the ballet again. My father died in the summer of 2018, and by rounding up the beautiful ladies in my family, I feel like he would have been proud. He had created a life where his wife, daughters, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters could attend a beautiful ballet. We all dressed up, and we went to see the show. It is another one of my favorite memories. Needless to say, I love “The Nutcracker”.
I remember knowing how special this day was. Little did I know HOW special it would be.
Fast forward again to Christmas 2020. What a year! Not only would I not be going home early enough to see the ballet, but I would not be going home at all. This would be the first year that I would not be spending the holiday with my family, and I was devastated. The happiest time of the year had turned into one of the saddest times of my life. Although I no longer had my dad, if I was with my family, then our combined spirits would be enough to bring joy to the season. Joy was hard to find.
I saw online that someone had created a small ensemble of ballerinas, and despite Covid concerns, she had brought “The Nutcracker” and joy to this little island. I got dressed up, and I went by myself. My husband has ZERO interest in the ballet, and I was such a downer, I could not trust myself to be around other people. I don’t spread bad vibes, and that holiday, I was full of sad, depressed vibes. I am all about spreading holiday cheer, and I am very against spreading sadness especially during the holiday season.
I arrived on Camp Foster, and everyone had to sit far apart from one other. We all wore masks, and we joined together to find some holiday cheer. If there is ANYTHING that can do that, it is “The Nutcracker”. The costumes are bright and fun. The dancing is always beautiful. The music is incredible. I left there and just knew there was hope for me. The ballet may have been what I needed to get out of my funk. I returned to my little beach house, decorated it, and readjusted my attitude so that I could have a nice holiday. It was truly such a gift.
“The Nutcracker” 2019 – They accomplished something that was nearly impossible that year.
Sunday, I was invited by a couple of friends to see “The Nutcracker”, and once again it did not disappoint. The music never changes; it is always incredible. This year the ensemble was larger. The costumes seemed brighter. The dancers were graceful and elegant. The little dancers were adorable, and once again, I was reminded of how much I love this time of year. I think my dad would have thought that it was so cool that we got to see such a beautiful performance done by such amazingly talented dancers. Military kids are amazing, and the talent on this island is remarkable. I also love that it was free. Regardless of our financial status, anyone could have gone. Something so special…out here…in Okinawa…a teenie island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean…it’s a pretty remarkable feat if you ask me.
The Nutcracker 2022 – Another beautiful performance.