A Nutty Gift

the Nutcracker, Boston Ballet, balletMany years ago I dated a guy who loved the ballet.

Not any ballet, though.

Specifically, the Nutcracker.

I thought he was rather nuts.

Not that I had anything against the ballet. At the time, I liked it in principle: incredibly ‘fit’ people in tights and leotards and sometimes sequins performing astonishing leaps and bounds.Nutcracker Ballet, Boston Ballet

But then on our fifth date, this man took me to see a performance of the wooden implement that turns into a prince. My date hummed along to every symphonic number, much to my amazement. Turns out, this was his sixth year of attending the December extravaganza.

I was kinda deciding I liked this guy, but really….a grown man enjoying a kid’s ballet every Christmas?

But as I looked around at the Philadelphia’s Academy of Music evening performance that year, I noticed the sparkling eyes of adults – many adults – and just a few children. This was obviously not just a “kid’s” show.

So, I stayed with the guy,

   . . . and now I’ve attended over 30 performances of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker, from Philly to San Francisco to Boston. Every December, this has become our holiday gift to each other.

Perhaps we’re both nuts.

Embarrassingly, we’ve never taken our kids. (Yes, this is a big shocker and please don’t judge me.) My mom treated our daughter for a few years until they both lost interest. Our son preferred the idea of torture rather than view grown people leap on a stage in embarrassingly skin tight fabrics, so we didn’t make him.

He had no idea how thrilled we were to not bring him along.

But a few years ago we saw a sparkle of interest in the eyes of our 5-year-old granddaughter, who danced as the sugarplum fairy in her little ballet troupe.Nutcracker, Boston Ballet Nutcracker

Three years later, she’s become as “nuts” as her grandparents. Her Christmas gift again this year is no computer game or Pokemon, no iPad or new school dress. Just a trip into Boston to see THE NUTCRACKER.

And I swear, as tears trickle from my eyes during the Snow Queen’s performance, my granddaughter shifts to the front of her seat, releases a humongous satisfied sigh, and  hums to the music.

grandmothers and granddaughtersBest Gift….Ever.

Happy Holidays to One and All. What’s your best holiday gift this year?


85 thoughts on “A Nutty Gift

  1. A lovely story of your relationship with the ballet, specifically the Nutcracker. I’ve only seen it performed on stage through the TV screen but would love to see it ‘live’. Your husband is a clever man for introducing you to it as he did and I hope your little granddaughter’s interest continues to grow. You never know, she could become a prima ballerina herself one day.
    Happy Christmas to you and your family.

  2. Well written with tongue in cheek edges…..Totally love that you two kept going happily ever after and didn’t take the children…
    Grandchildren are as magical as the Nutcracker…..so the combination is definitely a Christmas blessing.

  3. Funnily enough, I had an ex-girlfriend who was a huge ballet fan and one Christmas we went to see the Nutcracker. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but I enjoyed it once it got started and I realized I already knew most of the music. I’m so glad to hear that you, your husband and your granddaughter were able to have such a wonderful time watching it together.

  4. Our daughter’s birthday is Christmas Eve. When she was about six years old, my husband took her to The Nutcracker as a birthday present. I didn’t go because I had to stay home with her little brother. Now she’s 22 and The Nutcracker is still a father/daughter bonding experience.
    We tried going all four of us one year when my son was about 10. He endured the first half quietly enough and at the intermission stood up and started to put on his coat. We said, “This is just an intermission” He said, with a pained expression, “You mean, there’s MORE?!” The Nutcracker is cherished by my daughter, studiously avoided by my son. And so it goes.

    • I laughed so hard when I first read your comment. And then I just got back to it and I’m still laughing. What a sweet story. Hope your daughter had a wonderful birthday on Christmas Eve; she and your husband have a fabulous tradition. ❤️💚

  5. “I thought he was rather nuts.” LOL! That would have been my thought too, Pam. Sometimes when we step outside of our comfort zone, we’re pleasantly surprised. What a great tradition you now share. Merry Christmas to you and your family! ❤

  6. I LOVE THIS! I could watch The Nutcracker a hundred times and not tire of it, and how wonderful that your granddaughter loves it as much as you do! I wish you and your family a merry Christmas and all the best in 2017. Lots of love…

  7. What a love story! I met an artist at Christmas time, December 18, 1965 to be exact. We fell in love over The Sound of Music (saw it 3 times). But it could have been the Nutcracker. He was nuts about me too – ha!

  8. Who wouldn’t fall for a guy who loves ballet?
    You have a wonderful tradition. Isn’t it exciting to watch a child or grandchild latch onto an unexpected interest? We never know what exposure will delight them or stick forever. A heartwarming post. Thank you for sharing.
    Merry Christmas, Pamela, to you and yours. ❤ ❤ ❤

  9. Wonderful story, Pam. I love that you saw it at the Academy of Music. I feel now that we have another bond. 🙂 When our daughters were young, I won a Philadelphia Inquirer contest for box seats at the Academy to see The Nutcracker. The girls don’t remember it very well, but they got to meet the Sugar Plum Fairy, we received a nutcracker that we still have, and we got to go up on the stage after the show. We also used to watch the TV version with our girls. I love that you’ve continued the romance and the tradition! Happy holidays to you!

  10. I know people go ga-ga over the Nutcracker, but it never was my thing. I tried to enjoy it, get into it, get all excited about it. But like caviar, I suppose it’s something you either love or don’t. For those who enjoy it, good on you! I appreciate the talent, grace and strength that it must take to pull of ballet, but that’s about as far as it goes for me! Enjoy every single second of every single day, holidays and beyond! ❤

  11. Wonderful story! Thank you Pam for the gift you gave to us in your Creative Writing Course.  I  have enjoyed it immensely. When I returned home today I had the proof of my book waiting for me.  If I was excited in your class, I was over the top excited to hold it in my hand. I still can’t believe it!  I am going to attach a picture of the book here.  It was supposed to be light blue but perhaps they print the proofs in white…either way white or blue I love just holding it. Merry Christmas and Many Happy Healthy New Years to you and yours. Martha

  12. I danced as the Sugar Plum Fairy way back when and LOVE the music from the Nutcracker. I haven’t seen it 30 times . . . but have watched it a dozen times, or more.

    Hope your holidays are Merry & Bright!

  13. It’s ironic that you I’m reading this post on the morning after I received my Christmas gift – two days early. Our family has a tradition of visiting Disney World at least once a month to try a different restaurant. With the number of options available at the most magical place on Earth, we figure we have many months and years of dining opportunities ahead of us 😉

    Yesterday, we visited Epcot and engaged in some German cuisine at the Biergarten buffet. Magnificent all by itself. But, it was followed by a beautiful rendition of the Candlelight Processional presented at Epcot where a guest narrator shares the story of Christmas.

    Then, to conclude the evening, we were treated to a very special holiday edition of Illuminations that literally took my breath away and left each of us with a tear in our eye. It was breathtaking in every way possible. We didn’t come away with the Elsa ornament that we were hoping to add to our tree, but we did manage a few good family selfies and memories that will surely last a lifetime. Definitely the best. gift. ever 🙂

  14. My gift to my daughter on her 16th birthday was a performance of the Nutcracker and she loved it!! What a great story! Your guy is a keeper. My best holiday gift was a trip back to Canada to see my family for an early Christmas!! Wishing you and your family a very Happy Christmas!!

  15. Going to see The Nutcracker has always been a tradition here, too. It’s just the icing on the Christmas cake.
    Waiting for sunset on Christmas Eve is like standing toes-over-the-edge on a high diving board.
    Every year we’d cruise casually by the window to keep an eye on the sun’s progress until it was officially evening.
    Then the shout “Christmas Eve Gift!” would ring out.
    You see, the traditions says that the first person to voice that phrase on Christmas Eve to another would be graced with good fortune and joy all the next year.
    (And of course, whomever was first won. Everything was a contest…)
    It’s more difficult to be first now with caller ID.
    As all those who have become my friends in blogland are spread widely across time zones, I’d like to wish you all “Christmas Eve Gift” now.
    And as I already feel so fortunate to have such wonderful readers and writers in this neighborhood, I wish to share any phrase acquired good fortune and joy with you in thanks.
    No matter where you are or what you are guided by, hope you have a very merry Christmas and a new year full of adventure and joy.
    Peace on earth and goodwill towards all creatures great and small.

  16. If you’re nuts, you are definitely the best kind of nuts. Can you believe I’ve never seen a live production of the Nutcracker? I’ve only seen it on TV a few times. This year my best holiday gift is to be celebrating with my sister and her husband for the first time in many years. Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones, Pam!

    • What a special sibling Christmas!! I know exactly how you feel- I haven’t had Christmas with my brother in many many years, but two days after Christmas we have driven down to celebrate with him and his family in Maryland. There is a specialness to being with our siblings during the holiday. ❤️💚

  17. I can’t say I am a big fan of The Nutcracker although I love the ballet. I admire the strength and talent it takes to dance in the scenes. I have a great deal of empathy for the bleeding toes, lack of sleep and endurance it takes to put on a production of that magnitude. But I have seen it enough times and been a part of it enough times to last me a few years. Maybe if I have a granddaughter someday, I will take her to see it. But until then…
    My gift this year was staying at home all day with my hubby and doing nothing. It was 75 degrees outside and I got to sit on my bum and watch TV and take 2 naps LOL! It was well deserved after the week I had endured. (long story, tell ya later) Christmas is not my favorite time of year for lots of reasons. I love the reason we celebrate, but I despise the commercial aspects and who can outdo who in gift giving. It is stressful and it makes me sad….. I’m looking forward to a new year. 😀

  18. my best Christmas gift is memories of Christmases past…when my dear David and I spent them
    together….making some special once a year recipes and enjoying friends and family times….
    I still love Christmas, but it is with a little tear here and there….
    loved your story, Pam and you!!!!


  19. What a beautiful story Pam; it may be about nuts but far from nutty. How wonderful that 2 generations later, finally one of your little grandkids have found the same love and excitement for the show. Happy Holidays to you. ❤

  20. Just loved reading this Pamela!! So pleased to hear you stayed with that guy… haha… the right one, obviously!! 😀 I have seen the Nutcracker once… strangely just after my dad had died. My brother and I had gone through some terrible times with an inquest into our fathers death at a nursing home – we needed a bit of lightness that Christmas, I suggested seeing a ballet. I knew my brother was interested in seeing Swan Lake. Having seen a very dramatic piece of it performed on tv, he was convinced he might even like it – but the local theatre wasn’t showing Swan Lake that year, but the Nutcracker, so we went to see that instead. I think out of all the ballets I have seen it struck me as the most girlie ballet, so was very surprised my brother enjoyed it as much as I did. And it did help dark little minds a lot… don’t know how it did that, but it created some much needed magic. And I know our dad would have been well pleased we moved on from a hell hole and allowed the magic back in. My brother never used to like ballets, especially with those men in tights… it’s a man thing to hate the men in tights! 😉 But I’m thrilled to say he’s over all that now, and would happily go and see a ballet any time!

    I went by myself many years ago to see Peter Pan (pantomime). I’d never seen it as a panto, but had played Wendy in a pantomime once, so was intrigued to get the feel of being in the audience. I met an elderly lady sitting on the back row of theatre, she went every year on her own to see the pantomime. She didn’t just sit and watch, she joined in with all the audience participation and was thoroughly exited about the whole experience. Wow, it was wonderful to see someone, in their 80’s, all on their own, enjoying life so much. She was a real inspiration! And I think you are too Pamela, this post is brilliant.. everyone should go to the ballet or go and see something that perhaps they consider childish, it does us a world of good to do that. So thanks for sharing you and lovely man’s interest for the ballet, you might just inspire a whole load of people to go who never have… excellent message!! 🙂

    • I love your comments, Suzy. Thanks for taking the time to go through my latest blog posts. YES, you got it just right – ballet can give us a sense of magic, of lightness of being that doesn’t seem possible in the ‘real’ world. The Nutcracker was just the right performance for you and your brother to attend after that horrible darkness; I’m not surprised it helped. You’re reminding me of a time my guy and I went to see Swan Lake, and a woman sat in front of us, swaying her head and moving in supreme enjoyment. At intermission, for some reason, she turned and began to speak to me. Turns out she was a nun, and the ballet was her romantic pleasure, once a month. She was a feminist (would have nothing to do with my guy, kinda anti-man), yet, she was quite spiritual, and VERY passionate about her ballet. Funny world, yes?

  21. Aww, My mom took us a few times when we were kids. It’s a must-see at least once, and I can hum right along with you all. I took my daughter when she was about five and she laughed and laughed. All the old people around us thought she was adorable (thank goodness). What a lovely gift to you, your husband, and your granddaughter. I think you have trio now for your holiday tradition 🙂 ❤

  22. Lovely story. My parents and my grandfather took me to Covent Garden to see Aurora (or the Sleeping Beauty) when I was nearly 8. I can still remember sitting in a box in my party frock and my daddy explaining that I would not be allowed to spit orange pips onto the dancers (??). My mother was theatre mad and wanted me to be an actress. Sadly, I was far too shy and had no talent. She watched with delight our oldest daughter making all her little friends dress up and act plays. She would be proud to see her grand-daughter directing plays in Chicago’s many theatre now.

  23. I like when you can find common ground with a man (who you love) and also, a granddaughter. So wonderful and magical!
    I took my own three children once to see the Nutcracker. It was nice we brought binoculars and we had treats from my purse. Being a single mom meant we tried everything at least once, Pam! We loved laser light shows to music playing free in summers on downtown Columbus buildings. We found out about free will offerings at Shakespeare in Schiller Park (German Village) and I always packed a picnic.
    One year, Kate was wearing riding jodphurs and refusing to listen to her suitor in Taming of the Shrew. It was excellent set in the early Victorian era, where proper ladies didn’t carry whips around. 😀 My son’s favorite ones were the swordfighting in the battles, not the comedies.

  24. I absolutely love the Nutcracker! I’ve danced n it many times and I play the music on repeat. (It’s also set at Christmas time, so that makes it even better for me!) Costumes are gorgeous too… I hope my school does it this year.

    • Thanks so much for finding my ‘nutty’ story. YES, the immense grace, strength and talent needed to dance in The Nutcracker is astounding. I salute you for dancing the ballet – by far the toughest athletic feat in all of sports (yet not enough people understand that).

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