Every Christmas since my sophomore year in college my husband and I have gone to a performance of The Nutcracker.
By the time we had been married for two years, he had had enough. The last time we saw the Nutcracker as a married couple with no kids (oh, those blessed D.I.N.K. years. So much free time) he fell asleep before Clara did and was snoring loudly by the time the Sugarplum Fairy made her appearance. I remember being so angry with him we ended up having one of those fights typical of young couples with no children – you know, the kind where you hash it out in the taxi ride all the way home where you have no other responsibilities other than maybe a cat, then you make up in the morning after sleeping in and getting ready for brunch with friends. Yeah.
Excuse me while I go in the corner and cry for a minute.
Anyway, when our girls were younger, Nutcracker time once again became a special event. I got to pretend they were the type of little girls who regularly donned crinoline and bows and played tea party with me, rather than the Lord of the Flies ruffians who liked to dig shallow graves for neighborhood boys who displeased them.
One year in particular stands out. After a day of Christmas shopping for my
hoodlums children for necessities like night vision goggles, spy equipment, and patterned duct tape, I readied the girls to go out with me to the Nutcracker.
There’s a pivotal moment in parenting any child, one where they stop being so pliable and reasonable and insist on being their own person. I know. It’s never easy. And my time had come with the girls.
I clapped my hands together at the sight of my daughters in their sweet holiday dresses. Oh, don’t you girls look beautiful! Hang on while I take a picture.
Daughter #1: Uh, no. I look ridiculous. Can I wear jeans?
Daughter #2: I like wearing my dress, Mom. In fact, I love it [snarky look at sister].
I pushed the envelope the rest of the evening. Tried to hold their hands. Babbled on about how much I treasured these moments together. Ignored the heavy sighing and seizure-esque eye rolling. Basically kept a string of clueless mom drivel going until I was interrupted by my oldest.
Daughter #1: Oh my God. It’s Hannah and Leah. They will think I’m such a dork for being dressed like this [proceeds to slump into seat and zips parka over her head].
Daughter #2: Hannah! Leah! Over here!
Me: Oh, stop. You look lovely. Nobody dresses up for anything anymore. I say let’s set the bar higher, ladies [yes, I cringe even typing this. I was in deep denial over the adolescent years].
Daughter #1: [muffled, under parka] I am so embarrassed. This is so lame.
Daughter #2: Mom, maybe she’s embarrassed because she has hair in her armpits.
My girls are in college now, and for those of you in the trenches of the teen years, I can say they will come back. Maybe it’s just for the free dress and dinner. But they will come back.
PlanHero Nation, what are your holiday traditions?