The wonderful awfulness that is a Christmas Concert

Last night we had the privilege of attending my oldest niece’s first choral performance. She’s ten. It was a Christmas concert of sorts with songs played by the beginner band and songs sung by the chorus. The kids had been practicing for about three weeks. Which pretty much meant they were rough, squeaky, awkward and totally fourth graders. It was absolutely lovely. I almost cried.

I’m sure there will come a time in my near future when I will dread having to squeeze in yet another one of these concerts but this one was more beautiful to me than thousand-dollar box seats at the opera. Perfect performances are boring. Imperfect ones are lovely. From the tape peelings left from posters being ripped off the lunchroom wall to the uncomfortable metal chairs that were too close to your neighbor for comfort to the innocent freckled bubblegum cheeks of pre-puberty…I just wanted to capture it and put it in a jar.

So I made a horrible movie instead. I think I got another grain of sand in my camera because my lens has a terrible time focusing. (Blast it. Never buy a Canon TX-1.) I think the awfulness of my movie-making sort of goes with the theme of perfection being overrated though. I just had to share it with you even if it makes you squint and curse my camera skills under your breath. Life is blurry and wiggly sometimes, you know?

The whole event brought back waves of memories that nearly squished me with sentiment. I remember being in chorus. I remember singing so earnestly, standing up there on those creaky old thin carpet-covered bleachers. I remember trying to harmonize when I didn’t even really know what harmonizing was and crooning off key like a dying cow. I don’t think the teacher ever noticed me but that might be the reason I never made it to “Show Choir.”

I remember the fart jokes and the nervousness about my clothes not matching quite right. I remember hours and hours of examining the kids’ heads who stood in front of me. I remember one girl had so many zits on her back it nearly drove me insane just looking at them. I remember it all like it was yesterday.

How did my little niece get to be ten already? I just want to go to school with her every day and fight off the icy chunks of insecurity that come raining down like hail for no reason at all. I just want to meddle and fix and make everything okay so she can be the innocent child that I love so much forever and ever! But I can’t. I can’t hold back her curiosity for the future. I can’t stop time. I can only wince and record it.

It’s all so beautiful.

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas time around here.

here and here

I forgot I did have some photos of Bug decorating the tree. She hung all the sticky old candy canes (from last year? the year before maybe?) in her eye-view of course. Then the next three days we spent haggling over why she couldn’t eat them all day long. Finally, frustrated with my little negotiator, I threw them out. They were so gross. Not that letting a toddler eat a candy cane with all the sticky drool coating her chin and clothes is any less gross but I just felt bad letting her eat dust from last year’s Christmas.

I promised we’d buy some new ones at the grocery store. Which we did, of course. But I bought the little tiny ones that are not shrink-wrapped and funny thing, they don’t hang on the tree very well. Oh well. I guess they’ll just have to stay in the cupboard out of sight. Bah humbug. I’ll break them out for special treats so they don’t get all dusty for next year and repeat the whole cycle.

all decorated!

Here she is eating one. That kid loves candy canes. My mom says I did too when I was her age. I guess it’s not such a bad thing as long as she eats her broccoli too.

us

I’ve been trying to get a good picture of her in front of the tree for my yearly calendar that I give to the grandparents but I’ve been very unsuccessful. She’s not my little poser anymore. If I ask her to smile, she gives me her “Eba eyes” frown or runs away cackling. Getting her to hold still in low light is pretty much impossible. I should just take a picture of her as a blur and call it a day.

oooooh!

This one is sort of cute but not really Christmas-y enough even though she is holding an ornament. Those are the iron-on transfer-paper ornaments we made last year. I wish I felt like making them again. It would be neat to have photos for each year. I haven’t been very motivated lately. Not to worry though, usually great bursts of motivation follow lulls of mediocrity. I probably just need to lay off the sugar. I’ve been eating so much crap lately.

candy cane face

Speaking of eating a lot of cookies…yesterday was the Christmas walk in our little town. All the vendors come out and hand out cups of hot cocoa and cookies. There are bounce houses for the kids and bands playing live music on every corner. It’s pretty festive and loud. Forget trying to take a nap while it is going on. The town pretty much forces you to get out and enjoy Christmas—which is a good thing really.

This year was the first year that Bug and I actually “walked” the whole thing. I remember last year we strollered and the year before she fit in the baby carrier. I miss those days already. Funny how things change so much every year. More and more I’m finding that the stroller is more of a hindrance than a help. She always wants to walk anyway. She doesn’t keep up as much as I’d like (She is the worst lollygagger ever!) but I’m trying to learn how to slow down anyway.

queen of the petting zoo

I find myself getting so impatient with her as she wants to circle every tree we come across and pick every dandelion. I just have to tell myself that some day I’ll miss these years. Someday she will be impatient with me so I need to be kind and let her have her time. I think I read somewhere that you can’t really force a toddler to walk fast anyway. If you have the time, you’re better off just letting them dawdle and go along with the adventure of it. It’s hard for me though. Especially when I’m carrying her seven half-eaten cookies, a bottle of water, three balloons, my purse that is overflowing with all those things we might need and my coat that has become too hot to wear. Patience, thy name is motherhood.

enthralled

So anyway, that was fun. She loved the bounce houses. She loved the petting zoo and she LOVED the live music. I wish I had caught a photo of her dancing. But I was so loaded down with carrying everything I had a hard time being spontaneous with the camera. Excuses, excuses I know.

She really loves music. Part of me wonders if she might express her creativity (that’s in her genes) through music. I’ve plunked at the piano for years but I’m not really any good. I know Toby is musical even though he doesn’t play any instruments. He has a terrible knack for remembering tunes so well that they drive him insane. Isn’t that weird? He actually hates listening to songs that have strong melodies because they get stuck in his head so bad. I personally don’t have that problem so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

When we were listening to one band play, Bug was keeping time by swaying from side to side. The lead singer noticed and warned me that I might have a musician on my hands. I don’t know if he’s right. I think most kids are good at keeping time but I do know that Bug definitely has a penchant for music. She picks up tunes so fast and is always on key, often better than the adults.

Enough about that. I wanted to write more but she is dunking her pahs in her breakfast yogurt and now I have a mess to clean up. Later!