Monday, December 19, 2005

Your Show of Shows

A lovely holiday season to all of yous.

Here in the land o' Piffle, things have been busy. Kid-busy. Colin-busy, mostly.

As those with school-aged kids know, December is when that time honored tradition of The Big School Christmas Extravaganza is held. Actually, I think in most places now, it is known as "Holiday" or "Winter" rather than "Christmas", but here in small-village Wisconsin, we do not pander to those with other traditions. It is All Christmas, All The Time.

As Charles was coming back from a Really Big, Important meeting in Chicago (where he won an appeal before the state board of education, all applaud my amazing and brilliant husband) and was meeting us there, it was up to me to get small-handed people to the school on time. Colin, dressed in dress pants that were falling down, despite the belt, and clean sweater. Sara dressed in anything unstained. Me in matching shoes. (It's a Christmas Miracle!)

We arrived on time, having had to wade through the snow in the school parking lot, but happy to find a space, back behind the buses. We ditched Colin in his classroom and slipped along the snow-puddly hallways to the gym (of course it is held in the gym) and a spot on the bleachers.

The lights drop and the music teacher starts banging out strains of the kindergarteners' first song "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" on the ubiquitous upright school piano. This is followed by "Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer" and the token bow to those of another faith: "The Dreidel Song". All shouted, rather than sung, by the 5-year-olds.

And so it goes, for an hour. Herds of girls in velveteen and maryjanes, boys in sweaters or shirts and ties. As the grades progress, there is more singing than shouting. Accompanying hand gestures give way to dancing: Turkey Tango and something trying to be traditional Irish dancing, I think, are the ones that stick out. Then, the pointsettia raffle while all the kids troop back in to sing the finale song (something about Christmas around the world, with different kids calling out "Merry Christmas!" in different languages, while others held up construction paper flags). The whole thing ended by singing the official school song, set to, I realize in horror, the music of "It's A Small World, After All." Charles arrives half-way through, like the cavalry, and skootles Sara, who has had enough of cute kids butchering bad songs and bleachers and sitting still, to the hallway.

Back to the classroom to retrieve Colin, who proudly bears the centerpiece he has made, a ceramic creation that seems to be a snowman with an ent. It is glorious.

Now, I am sure you are all on the edges of your seats wondering how Colin's big birthday party came off.

Well, just swimmingly, I must say. I employed my decorating trick of streamers, streamers, and, oh, yes, streamers. Instead of balloons, (gasp) streamers were tied to the mailbox and the basketball hoop, looking almost completely unlike the prayer flags of Tibet. I said a few prayers, then, as 4 of the 6 boys who were officially invited, came.

They were polite and enthusiastic. We first we filled them full of pizza and pop, while they had a very serious and intense discussion about various scenes from the 6 Star Wars movies, which they can all quote from verbatim. As Charles said, "It's like a business lunch, but different." Then, we ran them downstairs while Colin opened his pile of Star Wars loot, and then chased them upstairs, filling them full of what Charles and I agreed was the very worst birthday cake in the world. The chocolate of the cake was completely without flavor and the icing tasted of chemicals and had the consistency of Cool Whip. It also had Yoda on top, which was supposed to talk but remained perversely mute when the stand was pushed. The kids loved it. We even had a choice of ice cream: Traditional Vanilla or Blue Moon, which was neon blue and tasted vaguely of sweet with a hint of Hawaiian Punch. You can guess which was the most popular flavor. Before the cake, we whipped them into a frenzy with the treasure hunt. Then, while I dealt with the carnage, Charles shepherded them downstairs to play multi-player video games while we waited for the parents to come and take their sugar-hyped kids home. Payback's a bitch, huh?

While sitting at the counter, watching my son and his friends at the table, I had this intense flash-forward to ten years from now, to his 17th birthday. I hope his friends of the future are as nice. I also know that we will need more than 3 large pizzas and a cake that will feed 24. I am glad we are raising our kids here.

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Blogger listmaker said...

I remember those grade school "music nights". I can't say I miss them, although we've traded singing for orchestra and band music.

It sounds like the birthday party was a total success. Congratulations to the parents for living through it.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And not to mention that loving Gwandpa forgot to send the obligatory Happy Birthday email on Saturday--the dolt. Anyway here it is, albeit it a bit late.

Love, Gwandpa, The Ole RFer.

1:51 PM  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

I think Gwandpa can be given a break due to recent occurences.

Beth and I went to see our friend Matt's daughter Ali's band recital about two years ago. Honestly (laugh all you want), I enjoyed it. Maybe because it brought back memories of choir and band? Maybe because it was nice to see small children engrossed in something other than being scary (do you think there's a phobia about children? There's one for everything else).

I think I would have enjoyed the birthday party as well. Perhaps I could have persuaded the boys that Star Trek: TNG is so much better than Star Wars?

2:28 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

A pointsettia raffle. Gasp! I hope you didn't win. (I've never understood the appeal of point [heh, heh] of pointsettias.)

That cake is bizzar-o. Good thing the boys ate it, saving you and Charles from having to eat it. And the blue ice cream. Whoa!

4:31 PM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Re: the previous mangled comment. What I meant to type was: "I've never understood the point of pointsettias."

See how hilarious I am? You'd think I might proof my comments before posting them, but no.

4:34 PM  
Blogger moegirl said...

Both the Christmas and Birthday events sound very, very fun. Sounds like the birthday came off very well. That's excellent, sometimes kid birthdays can be trying.

Allie has had several Christmas performances with orchestra, she plays the viola. The "big" one was at Clackamas Town Center. She and her group did very well. Lots of polite applause and appreciation from parents and shoppers. She wore her velvet skirt and nylons and "fancy shoes"-- As I watched I kind of wanted to brag to the other shoppers, "Hey, that's my daughter, the adorable one in the purple velvet skirt, so concentrated and talented!"- not that I would ever I'm doing here and now, and endlessly to everyone at work...

5:21 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Listmaker- Ah, they are funny but rather dreadful, are they not? I prefer choral to band concerts, but that is probably because I have no kids in band.

Dad- Don't spare it a thought. Will get you pictures, soon.

Dana- You probably would have enjoyed this spectacle, too, then. I'm right there with you on the ST-TNG vs SW thing. Obi Wan has nothing on The Picard.

Rozanne- You are just so wonderfully positive. That damn cake was only 1/5 or less eaten by all and sundry. Most of it is sitting in the un-insulated "green room" that is attached to the kitchen and serving as our winter cold storage area. We also have plenty of blue ice cream, should you care to have some...

Nope, didn't win. To win, I'd have had to buy a ticket. I don't hate pointsettias but don't seek them out. My dad has actually gotten them to re-bloom by putting them in total darkness for months on end then bringing them out into the light on an increasing schedule before Christmas. The man needs a better hobby.

Stacy- Brag away, honey, brag away! Funny how having your kid in something turns it from horrid to wonderful. Hormones are funny things.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

Sigh. here in big-city-ville, the public school system is out of money, and so there are no more music teachers, as of this year. Which, in the case of my kids' school, is a pretty good thing. The music teacher actually encouraged them to shout, rather than sing. I made the mistake of taking my mom (a retired music teacher) to a "holiday" show last year, and she cringed and winced the whole time, the kids were so awful. trained to shout. How to ruin music. This year, Pocket's class did a show, and the classroom aid taught them the music, and they sang beautifully!
I'm happy that Colin's b-day party went off so well.
p.s. I think the prayers on those buddhist prayer flags aren't answered until the flags disintigrate after having flapped in the wind and sun for months...

3:52 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...

Clap, clap, Whoo-hoo!, clap, thunderous applause! ~ That's for Charles.

I remember being in school concerts like that. Funny, I was talking to someone recently about children singing. It seems that most children do not develop a sense of pitch until they are about 11 or 12 years old.

The birthday party sounds like it went off swimmingly. Congratulations!

3:55 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Teri- Oh, that's just terrible, both not having a dedicated music teacher and the horrible music teacher they had. The older grades sang rather nicely and, last year, Colin was singing his songs as practice (pretty much constantly for the month preceeding) and not shouting, so I figure it is just a kindergarten thing.

Beth- Thank you on behalf of my marvelous Charles for that ovation. Funny, some kids have amazing singing voices, others, as with adults, not so much.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Babs said...

Gah. Pity you don't have an Ovenbake store there. Best cartoon cakes on the PLANET, I'm telling you.

I always loved going to the niece and nephews plays/pageants.

Mind I always got funny looks for weeks on end afterwards, because, apparently, a grown woman singing 'Five Green and Speckled Frogs' is a bit odd.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Babs- Oh, you and your NY bakeries. Actually, we have a really fantastic bakery in our little village, but its hours are inconvenient to our work schedules. Hence, the dreadful one on the drive home. So, is that line sung to the "Five goooolden rings" in the 12 Days of Christmas song? And if so, what are the other verses? I do love mutated songs.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

If not for children, who would eat all those dreadful shortening-flavored cakes? Who, I ask you? :-)

Happy birthday to Colin, and many more.

(P.S. I won a poinsettia in MY local Christmas program. Nyaaaaaaahhhhhh. ;-))

10:29 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Jamie- I admit, myself to a perverse liking of those dreadful shortening cakes, but this one was way beyond me. That's right! I had forgotten your winnings.

My Mother-in-law just gifted me with a pretty red cyclamen. I have had about 5 given to me over the years. The longest I've been able to keep one alive is 6 months. The shortest died after, I kid you not, 6 days. Shall we take bets on the life span of this poor doomed soul?

11:34 AM  
Blogger Teri said...

Merry Christmas, Diana!

12:17 PM  
Blogger brooksba said...

I wanted to stop by to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas! I hope the season is bright and full of happy moments to create lifetime memories.

2:48 AM  
Blogger The Lioness said...

(I hope you're having a wonderful Christmas w the family and the furry ones. Smooches.)

7:45 AM  

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