Family Matters,  movies,  Niece-com-poops,  Tis the Season

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.


  • Jummy

    Wow, this is such a beautiful entry. I’m at work so I’ll have to watch the video when I get home but Rapunzel is lucky to have you as her Auntie!

  • Jennifer

    It really is a beautiful thing. I think that your niece has grown into such a pretty young lady. I don’t blame you for wanting to shield her from any hurt. I’m starting to brace myself for such events with Emily. I can’t fathom Audrey nor Molly in that stage, not yet anyhow.

    I absolutely loved the video. It brought back my choir memories too. What a time that was!!

  • BeachMama

    That is so wonderful.

    And just wait until Bug goes to school, your heart will break daily at all the stuff the kids have to go through. And for me it kills me to see my son face some of the stuff I faced as a kid and to watch him get through it just like my Mom did with me. I have shed a few tears already and he is only in Senior Kindergarten, what will I do next year when he is in grade 1?

  • karen

    We missed Ross’ 4th Grade Holiday Concert today because he’s been home sick since Sunday. At the time we would have left to go up to the school, I went upstairs to be sad for a minute – by the time the Spring Concert rolls around, he’ll be all but a 5th grader. That beautiful awful innocence of his first school chorus concert will be lost among the flood of other kids who’ve ‘been there’. Thanks for posting your niece’s concert so I could vicariously enjoy a little first 4th grade concert fun!

    P.S. “Music Alone Shall Live” brings back such nice memories of summer camp for me. *nostalgic sigh*

  • (another) bethany

    beautiful post, beautiful niece, thanks for sharing it all! D’s is next week … Jingle Bell Rock all the way ;) I think all grade school bands sound about the same? That could have been ours for sure!

  • pinky

    oh, that is wonderfully terrible – I love the tentativeness, like every single child is waiting on what their neighbor to do, before they will do it themselves. It brings me back to all the choir concerts and tapdancing recitals I forced my poor family into attending. It truly warms my heart :-)

  • Gayle

    Brenda, my kids are in 10th, 7th and 6th grades. It is a wonderful, scary, happy, sad ride! I look at my first born “baby” and can’t believe he only has two years of high school left after this year. You definitely have to treasure each and every moment.

  • heidi

    I went to my 10 year old’s band concert tonight. You summed it up beautifully. Thank you. Of course, I’m getting a bit jaded as I spent one night last week at my 13 year old’s band concert and next week is his jazz band concert. I may be concerted out.

  • Sumiko

    Such an awfully beautiful post that brought back similar memories. Loved how you painted such vivid pictures with your words, and loved the OCD aside about the zitty back! Definitely the highlight of my day as the baby takes her bath with Daddy and the dishes await . . .

  • DeeJay

    You have such a wonderful way with words. Loved this entry.

    Am a band mom so I’ve been to quite a few of these beginning band things. Rarely do I speak of it, but my son is not the only child that I have that can play an instrument. The girl was in band too and plays the clarinet. She didn’t stay in like brother did, but don’t let her fool you…she’s very artistically gifted.

    Look forward to more posts like these over the years to come.

  • Susie

    Every time I go to one of my kids’ school concerts, I find myself welling up with tears and I feel so embarrassed. I’m not especially sentimental or mushy, but it gets me every time. I’m actually teary just thinking about it. Please send help.

  • Jennifer W.

    Wow. I had totally forgotten about that time I fell over and nearly fainted standing on some of those dirty bleachers. Note to self: don’t lock your knees. I just love this time of year. And in case you hadn’t heard, you just won a super important award. (Okay it’s from me so it’s not important however it IS super).