December 22

The Nutcracker…Tutu Much Fun!

She stood on her tippy toes.

At the front of the concession stand line where the room was packed with moms, dads and little girls dressed in taffeta and lace, she showed me her moves and rose to the very tiny tips of her toes.

I thought she deserved a free package of Cracker Jacks. I can’t even feel my toes on most days, especially when I try to cram them into my favorite boots that are a tad too small.

When Saydee Grace saw her practically professional ballerina move, her eyes grew wide in amazement. Then she turned from the little girl and demanded Oreos and Sprite.

It was Saydee’s first ballet, a night of culture, arts and a fabulous carriage-like bike ride through the festive lights and downtown streets of San Antonio. Christmas music played while we sat snuggled together in the back, watching the blur of the multi-colored lights on the buildings as we sped by.

The only disappointment was having to explain in detail why she wouldn’t be getting on stage.

“We are here to watch the other ballerinas. You’ll have your turn someday.”

“I can do it now,” she assured me.

We moved with the crowd to find our Groupon discounted, miraculous front row seats. But then there were two. The chairs at the very front and the immovable rows that began just behind the half wall.

“Do you know where 109 and 110 are?” I asked a woman, who appeared to be a lot more cultured than myself.

“These seats are not numbered,” she replied. I thought I sensed a tone, but it was likely just me, sweating profusely under my houndstooth wrap, dealing with a sudden menopausal hot flash and hoping nobody saw my granddaughter snacking on snot.

Before the show began, a polished man with a sweet demeanor encouraged us to turn off our cell phones. Pictures were not allowed. It can be disruptive to the other members of the audience. He did not mention that a tiny Troll flashlight clipped to a fuzzy purse could also be a distraction. Saydee’s streaming light force was brighter than any stage lighting.

The Nutcracker, performed to perfection by the Mejia Ballet International and San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet, was absolutely delightful. I only slightly nodded off for one head jerking second during the first act. The little girl on my left just smiled when we both realized what had happened.

The music, the sets, the costumes, it was a magical evening. I picked out my favorite ballerina, one of the trio, dressed in light pink with a round face and big, beautiful smile. There was something special about her. She danced like she meant it. Her performance seemed effortless, fun and light.

One Christmas, like most little girls, I received a bright pink music box with the small silver wind-up on the back. Countless hours were spent carefully lifting the lid, slowly peeking into the box, watching her come to life. To twirl, to dance.

Last night, sitting in such a perfect spot, I felt like I was sitting on the very edge of that box, watching my childhood ballerina dance her way to life.

The seats might not be numbered, but our days are. The ones we spend making memories with the people we love are always days worth counting. I’m so in love with the people who practice relentlessly so they can share their creative talents for us to enjoy. They deserve an audience. I think Saydee had it right all along when she said, “I’m ready now.”

We don’t ever need permission to dance.

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