Friday, December 14, 2012

My holiday season indulgence: A night of middle school music

I have many friends whose idea of self-indulgence during the holiday season involves pedicures, massages, or long lunches at fine restaurants.

Mine is a lot more low-budget. My yearly December indulgence is attending the middle school holiday concert.
Last night, just as with every year, someone I run into in the audience is bound to look at the stage, look down at their program, and say in a slightly puzzled tone, “So Tim is in the chorus this year…? Or Holly is playing with the jazz band….?”

Their puzzlement is justified. Neither of my kids is in any musical group associated with the school (or any musical group not associated with the school, unless you count Holly hiphop-dancing on her bed while blasting her iPod), and they can’t imagine why I’d bother to spend a whole evening during the busiest time of year attending a school concert if neither of my kids will be on stage.
But that’s just what makes it an indulgence: I’m under no obligation whatsoever to be there. I go just because I so enjoy hearing talented kids sing and play instruments, and I get such a kick out of seeing them all so dressed up and engaged in the moment of performance. As they file onto the stage, pick up their instruments, train their gaze on the conductor, bow to the audience’s applause….it’s such a different view of the same kids whom I normally see thundering in and out of the school cafeteria or swarming the soccer field or jostling each other in line at the ice cream stand. This is the side of them that foretells a different kind of future ahead: one in which they know how to carry themselves with dignity, dress formally, follow someone else’s lead in order to create magnificent results.

So I go to the yearly holiday concert because it’s such a pleasure to witness this, but also because in some small way, I feel like it’s an important exercise in conquering the tendency to rush through the holiday season. Yes, there were many things I could have been doing with those same two hours, many items that would be crossed off my To Do list today if I’d skipped the concert. I might have made some progress with holiday baking. I might have mopped the kitchen floor. I might have packaged the gifts that need to be mailed to Colorado by this weekend. Or I might have finished writing the couple of articles that are due today.
But it’s good sometimes to renounce your To Do list, especially during the holiday season. There was no reason for me to spend two hours at the concert, but I did anyway. I heard some good music, witnessed talent both great and still developing, and made it a priority not to be bustling around in the usual holiday season way. No, it’s not a pedicure or a fancy night out: just a free evening of music in the school auditorium. But I’m really glad I was there.

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