According to The Man, I need to walk for about a week before I can start running again, so I've been dragging my lazy ass out of the house for the last few days, and reminding my muscles what it feels like to do more than move from the office to the living room and back. This hasn't been as difficult as I thought it would be, because I'm super motivated to get back into shape, and the weather in Los Angeles has been just amazing. Right now, it's 71 in my backyard, and it has been near 80 for almost a week. I have also taken the boredom out of walking by listening to America: The Audio Book by Jon Stewart and the writers from The Daily Show. It's awesome, and I highly reccommend it.
This morning, I added two miles to my walk, which took me past Nolan and Ryan's elementary school. The streets around the school were lined with cars, and I paused my iPod long enough to hear a chorous of children singing holiday tunes as I passed the auditorium. It reminded me of a blog entry I wrote a few years ago, which didn't make it into Just A Geek. The original is in the archives, but rather than cut-n-paste, I did a little . . . uh . . . cleaning up, because, well . . . uh . . . wow.
Hope new readers like it, and hope returning readers don't mind the reprint.
I am Jack's Holiday Program
Originally published on December 20, 2001, edited on December 15, 2004
I just got back from watching Nolan's holiday program at his school.
Nolan is in 5th grade this year, so it's the last elementary school holiday program I'll probably ever see, and when I realized that this morning, I felt immense regret for all the years I attended because I felt obligated to be there, rather than truly looking forward to the show.
For years, Anne and I would arrive at the school moments before the show began, and we'd end up standing in the back, with all of the other parents who overslept, or took too long for breakfast, or had to grab a quickie once the kids were at school. But this year, Anne got there nice and early, and grabbed us two seats with a great view of the stage.
Unfortunately, our great view was tainted a little bit by the horrible people who surrounded us. To my immediate right, I present the old woman who kept farting loudly throughout the entire show. I will not deny that there was more than a little amusement value in listening to them reverberate off the metal cafeteria chairs, but they weren't just the loud "hey, pull my finger" farts. They were the really horrible, lingering, "holy shit, man! Was that you?" ones. Behind us to the right, please enjoy the two little kids who did not stop talking the entire time, except when their mother told them that a good way to stay occupied would be to stand on the floor and bang on their chairs in time to the music. And finally, say hello to the kid immediately behind me, who had one of those little kid colds, and coughed and sneezed throughout the whole performance. I especially loved it when he sneezed all over the back of my neck.
Once the show got started, though, all the annoyances that surrounded us insignificantly faded into the background, as we focused our attention on the stage. All of the classes were great, and the kids were just adorable. The theme this year was Peace and Diversity, which is very funny, considering that I live in the most reactionary, demagogic Republican area in the freakin' world. (All of my neighbors had those offensive "Protect Marriage" signs last year, when the homophobes were trying to make it certain that marriage should only be between men and women. Because those marriages always succeed. And we have to keep the gays from soiling that sacred, unspoiled institution, right?) Sorry. mini-rant. I'm back now.
Nolan's class performed the Christmas carol "O, Tannenbaum," which meant that I spent the last five weeks helping Nolan learn three verses in German, so I could sing along. It was easy to pick out the other 5th grade parents, because they were singing too. Nolan was so adorable in his red sweater and Santa Claus hat, and he held his head high as he belted out, "O Tannenbaum, o Tannenbaum, wie treu sind deine Blätter!" He did all the same things on the stage that he did when we were learning the song: when he sang "Du grünst nicht nur zur Sommerzeit" he clenched his hands into tiny fists and looked at the ceiling. When he sang "Nein auch im Winter, wenn es schneit" he punctuated the three syllables in wenn es schneit with little punches in front of his chest.
I am certain that I, like all the other parents, was able to pick out and isolate my child's voice from the chorus, and I am equally certain, as were the other parents, that my child had the sweetest voice, and turned in the most adorable and memorable performance that has ever graced the cafetorium's stage. Or any cafetorium's stage, for that matter.
My absolute favorite moment was watching Nolan's subdued Joe Cocker as he sang,of course . . . but coming in a close second was when these kids read poems about winter. There were 4 kids up on the stage, all in their holiday finest, who each read a different winter-related poem. The first kid read "The Snowman" by Shel Silverstein, and I'm embarrassed to report that I can't recall what the middle two kids did. But the last kid, who looked an awful lot like Dewey from "Malcolm in the Middle", who wore a checkered shirt and non-matching clip-on tie (it was so damn cute, I couldn't stand it) recited, from memory, a poem by elementary school staple Jack Prelutsky, which was quite an impressive achievement, especially for a third grader. This kid did a great job, and when he was done, he proudly scanned the audience, clearly looking for his parents. When he found them, shrugged his shoulders as if to say, "Well, that's about as good as it gets", and picked his nose and ate it.
Nolan starts Middle School next year, and I realized this morning how much I'm going to miss not just these performances, but all the things that are part of elementary school: the macaroni art work, the turkey on Thanksgiving that's made from a little handprint on brown paper, the mobiles at Christmas that are made from sixteen inches of yarn, green construction paper cutouts that look like trees if you squint, and fifty pounds of glue.
I know that they'll both be in high school before I know it, and then they'll be off to college . . . but wherever my stepkids are, I'll always have these memories to keep me company each holiday season.
Happy Holidays, everyone. I hope you get to spend some time this season with people you love.