Fancy holiday dresses and sparkly tights were assembled in advance. Travel and dinner plans were pondered, discussed, confirmed. Ten years ago, I dreamed of this outing, this annual tradition, but with Abbey and Beth, my only niece at the time. And then that dream disappeared. I thank my sister-in-law for suggesting it this year, in advance, with time to coordinate a date open on all calendars and purchase tickets. I no longer have to ask myself why we didn't go this year.
Late Saturday morning, I stuffed five kids and a grammy into my minivan and we drove off to the city. We parked on the edge of the financial district and walked up to the Opera House, where we met up with my sister-in-law and two more of my nieces. The kids were bubbly and giggling. It was all an adventure: driving down streets permanently shaded by high rise buildings, the holiday sights and sounds of Downtown Crossing, the beauty and elegance of the Boston Opera House.
The ballet itself was a magical performance. The girls thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the parts that included children. And the mice. And that giant teddy bear. Not that they needed to see a professional performance to appreciate their ballet class but it definitely helped tie in what they are learning. When I asked Allie if there was a certain character she liked the best, if she could see herself as a dancer in the future, she stated, "I can already do all those moves." (Says the child who wants to be en pointe already.)
I'm not sure why this year feels different but the girls seem to be much less focused on toys and receiving presents. There's been more emphasis from them on doing: picking out our tree, decorating the tree, going to The Nutcracker with cousins, asking to see Santa and holiday lights, making lists of gifts to give to others, addressing their own holiday cards, helping to plan Christmas parties. Let's make memories, little ones.
(Yes, one of my children is missing from these photos. Apparently, I didn't complete the required paperwork or she's a rockstar or something.)