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Friday, January 08, 2010

#99 School Plays and Concerts

In 2006 I wrote and posted a list of 100 life-enriching little nuances in which the items are in no particular order. Once a week, over the next couple of years, I’m planning to write a post about each item on the list. I’d love it if you would add your own comments and experiences.

Having just come from work, I walked into the school gymnasium as my niece’s second grade class took the stage. I searched the crowd for my family, found them, and sat in the seat they saved for me. Then I began looking toward the stage for my niece. There she was – standing at the end of the front row of students – supporting herself on her walker.

She was born with cerebral palsy in her lower extremities and it took all the strength she had to stand. I can still she her legs quivering when she stood for long periods of time.

She really just wanted to be treated like everybody else. She wanted to stand next to her classmates and sing with them. So she did. 

I don’t know why, but one of the songs they sing, called “Must be Santa” sticks in my brain.

Who’s got a beard that’s long and white?
Santa’s got a beard that’s long and white.

Who comes around on a special night?
Santa comes around on a special night.

Special night, beard that’s white, 
Must be Santa must be Santa,
Must be Santa, Santa Claus.

Their heads sort of sway back and forth as they sing.

We applaud as if we just heard the best rendition of the song ever performed and since they are our kids, we have. Some of the students are oblivious, some ham it up, some drink it all in. My niece is the bashful type, especially at this stage in her life – which is now 12 years ago, so her eyes dart back and forth and she partially conceals a smile.

All these years later, I’ll sometimes begin to sing the chorus of “Must be Santa” at Christmastime and my niece will roll her eyes. But there’s nothing she can do to stop it. The concert, the song, her struggle to stand next to her fellow students, her bashfulness – it’s all part our family folklore now.

Technically, folklore is unwritten, so I guess I’ve just moved the story beyond folklore to heritage. Either way, it’s remembered. And that’s the important thing. It’s also why school plays and concerts are on my list of 100 life-enriching little nuances. They have the potential to stay with us forever.


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