December 2000


Last night was the long-awaited and snow-delayed performance of The Nutcracker by the Indian Springs Elementary School preceded by a nice collection of music by the first and second graders. As they say, a good time was had by all. Except perhaps the slugs who got there late and had to stand along the walls and out into the hallways. I love how so many people will arrive late to an event and then look annoyed that they can’t get good seats.  As always, the principal walked around muttering to himself about fire code violations and insurance.

“Too many people…  over capacity…”

I, quite rudely, staked out a claim in the primo location up front and planted my tripod there and proceeded to video the whole thing. I wasn’t the only one but I had the post position in the front row on the right. Just far enough to the side so that I didn’t get lots of pictures of the music director’s backside.

Erin had a small speaking part and Evan had a role to play as one of the toy soldiers. Erin has adopted the philosophy of taking center stage whenever the situation presents itself. It’s probably a pretty good way to be. Evan is somewhat more reserved but when finally put on stage with his buddies, he obviously enjoys the spotlight. Particularly when asked to engage in a sword fight on stage with a mouse. Who could resist?

Typically, the little girls all looked like they were having the times of their lives (and why not, what with getting to dress up and parade around on stage?) and all the little boys had a look of elaborate indifference on their faces. As if they were all wondering “is my older brother going to make fun of me later for this?” The music teacher just looked stressed out; but then she always does. I’ve never seen her when she didn’t look like she was wound up way too tight. Maybe she should loosen those hair barrettes or something.

I was taken to task lately for only video-taping only what is of interest to me; that being my own kids. I was carefully instructed (by the kids actually) to video the whole thing not just them. All I can say is: you should see the video. It’s a prize winner. Very few nose pickings or tripping over things.

Well, it’s that time of year; when dozens of other activities overshadow my birthday. It used to be finals, now it’s musicals that the kids are in but in this case, the musicals are definitely far superior to any birthday hoop-de-doos I might think up.

Last night, the kiddos were in the annual Christmas Cantata (I think that’s Latin for Church Christmas Music Thing). This year’s was a big production with an orchestra and everything. This was an occasion when the choir and organist pulled out all the stops (literally). Evan got to stand by one of the adult soloists. We later had a talk to him about not turning to face the guy with that “What are you yelling at?” look on his face.  Eyes front – that’s the watchword.

Erin stood right behind the tuba player. Her comment:

“Boy, that’s really loud.”

She was impressed though – the tuba had Christmas lights all around it. She also liked the nice touch that the tuba player had a santa hat and he had also outfitted his tuba with a matching santa hat. Erin is sensitive to fashion statements like that.

They were a bit intimidated by being involved with the adult choirs and an orchestra but after seeing the video, they are now insufferably pleased with themselves. And with good reason; it was very enjoyable even after the third time through. Those of us with video cameras and infants were relegated to the balcony. The bulletin didn’t specifically make reference to “Mr. Westbrook and his front-row tripod-packin’ self” but I got the message. I’m not the only one you know. It was really great although I must say that nobody can belt out “Go Tell it on the Mountain” like the Baptists do. I wish us Methodists could put that much spirit into it just once.

Apparently, whoever printed the programs left out the last song. No biggie but, since there was no benediction planned, when the last song was done, we didn’t know if it was the last song or not since we had already been treated to an extra so we all sat back down. The orchestra then all got up and started packing up. The conductor then looked around and said “GO HOME!” and waved us all off. That’s what I like: short and to the point. He’s got my vote for conductor.

Personally, I can’t get enough Christmas music so I’m looking forward to the schools’ presentation of the Nutcracker. It has been re-scheduled twice now due to all the snow so I don’t know when it’s going to be. Evan, in addition to singing, also is playing one of those mouse-warrior things and so gets to wave a sword about. That should be interesting.