Friday, December 01, 2006

December and the Dance

It's ten minutes past three and I'm just sitting down to have some lunch. That's fairly indicative of how this day, and my whole week, has gone!

In fact, last night I never really ate dinner at all. My dear husband had to work, so around five o'clock, the Sweet Girl and I headed over the seminary's annual Christmas party for faculty, students and spouses.

Back when I was on staff, and before that, when I was a student, this party used to be a looked-forward to event at the end of each semester. One year, D. and I were even instrumental in planning the evening entertainment. But it's been a few years since we've been to one of these. Technically, since I teach online for the seminary, I am considered adjunct faculty, but (even though it's just three blocks away) I am rarely on campus anymore except for an ocassional run into the library or to take sweet girl to her ballet class at the family center.

That's the whole reason I went last night: the ballet class was going to perform the dance number they've been practicing for several weeks. My little one got a new red sweater and yes, some silky dance shoes just for the event. She was excited...until we got there, and she realized how many people were in the room and how loud it all was. Stage fright struck and she refused, absolutely and point blank, to go up front to do the dance. So of course I said that was OK (and so did her very understanding teacher) and I held her on my lap about ten yards away from the dance space. I know how prone she is to change her mind, so I checked with her several more times, in a kind and understanding voice: "Honey, are you sure you don't want to go up there? Do you want to, or not?" etc. and she kept saying emphatically "I do NOT" as if her life depended on it.

And then of course half way through the dance she began to sob because she wasn't doing it. I had to hustle her out of the room so she wouldn't completely disrupt things. Poor boo-boo!

I can empathize, really, not only because I've always gotten terrible stage fright whenever I've had to do anything in public. I can also emphathize with the desire to do something at war with a desire not to. It's sort of how I felt about going to the party actually. Being at the seminary is never an easy thing for me because it feels like it's a place that belongs to a completely different season of my life. I always miss people who aren't there -- friends who have graduated, teachers who have retired -- and as the years wear on, I know fewer and fewer of the people in the room. So there's one sadness. There are other personal factors that also make such times difficult (too hard to go into here) but those came into play last night too.

So...between the stress of a little girl freaking out about a dance recital, and the stress I felt about being there in the first place, and the fact that I haven't eaten red meat in almost 20 years and the main course was beef brisket...well, you get the idea. I had a couple of bites of cole slaw and a few Christmas cookies. And when D. got home from work around 11, we sat down and had pop tarts.

And right now I'm enjoying a bowl of broccoli soup and just trying to catch my breath. It's been a long week, especially with work at church. I managed to finish up a Sunday bulletin with something like seven inserts today, AND the first ever issue of newly-revitalized-and-produced church newsletter (it's been a long time since we've had one). I was up till 1 a.m. last night editing newsletter articles, writing checks for our family's first of the month bills, and trying to work out what I need to do still with the class I'm teaching as we head quickly into finals. My house is a wreck and I STILL can't find the rest of the Christmas music, which is frustrating me no end.

Ready for December? Ready for Advent? :-) But here it comes, and in spite of myself, I'm glad. And I will try to throw myself into the dance, though I think I need to keep the dance very simple this year...perhaps as simple as the 2 minute performance by my daughter's young ballet class. I don't want to find, half-way through, that I'm crying on the sidelines wishing I'd gotten up and joined in!

Oh...and don't worry. Sweet Girl will have another chance to join her dance too. They're scheduled to do it again several days from now for the local nursing home residents right across the street. She's been there before, and I'm hoping the smaller and quieter environment, plus the idea of doing something kind for others, will give her the courage and impetus to try again.


Erin said...

Aww... I can appreciate her position for sure, especially not having performed in front of an audience like that before. And I too find myself often torn between wanting to do things and not, natural hermit that I am. December is an especially difficult balancing act.

It seems there's so much to do and so many demands on one's time... But as Father Mulcahy said in one of my favorite episodes of M*A*S*H, "It doesn't matter whether you feel useful or not when you're moving from one disaster to another. The trick, I guess, is to just keep moving." Well, "disaster" may be rather too strong a word for the everyday sort of chaos that assails us this time of year, but I keep returning to that quote anyway... At any rate, you really beautifully capture the trials and wonders of the season...

Beth said...

Thanks, Erin! Great quote...

Yah, I'm feeling rather beleagured this year. Just exhausted by too much to do and not enough time to be.

S. is still struggling with the notion of "performing." We shall see what happens at the nursing home this Saturday! :-)