It's Not Christmas Until The Sugar Plums Dance
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It's Not Christmas Until The Sugar Plums Dance

A reflection on an unforgettable holiday tradition.

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It's Not Christmas Until The Sugar Plums Dance
Amelia Jones

It's a classic tale that I'm sure you have all heard. There's a girl by the name of Clara who receives a very special gift for Christmas, a Nutcracker, from her Uncle Drosselmeyer. With the help of some magic the Nutcracker is brought to life where he defeats the frightening Mouse King and saves Clara. After the victory, the Nutcracker transforms into a Prince, who takes Clara on a journey to the Land of Sweets where she is greeted by the Sugar Plum Fairy, who, with the help of the other members of the Land of Sweets, gives her the ultimate dream and performs for Clara and her Prince.

I was four years old when I saw my first production of "The Nutcracker" by the Boston Ballet. My birthday is three days before Christmas and as my present that year, my mom bought tickets for us. Little did she know that that day would spark something not only in my eyes, but in my heart.

My mom says she had never seen me smile bigger, or sit more still for two hours than that day when I watched the ballet. In fact, during intermission I turned to my mom and told her, "When I grow up I want to be Clara in 'The Nutcracker.'" Of course, my mom laughed and kissed me on the head and said the classic go-to mom line, "You can be anything you set your mind to."

Well, then I guess she has no one to thank but herself for what happened after she told me that. It has now become a tradition for my family to attend The Kansas City Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker" every year. However, for eight years this tradition became so much more than just going to see the ballet.

I began taking ballet classes at the Kansas City Ballet School when I was six years old and at the age of eight I got the opportunity to audition to be a part of The Kansas City Ballet's production of "The Nutcracker." I was cast as an angel and a mother ginger extra my first year, and that was only the beginning.

From the end of September through the entire Christmas season, while most kids were getting their lists ready for Santa I was rehearsing every weekend in order to be ready to bring the visions of dancing sugar plums to life on stage. Week after week, year after year, my parents drove me 30 minutes downtown, not only to take ballet classes, but to go to rehearsals.

To an elementary and middle school kid one would think that sounded awful, but it became my favorite time of the year. My family referred to this time of year not as the "Christmas Season," but "'The Nutcracker' Season."
We don't have a big family, and with the small family that we have living in outside states, having such a memorable tradition like this helped bring us together during Christmas. It was always a topic of conversation in early September, about auditions and what part I wanted to be. Then, when Thanksgiving came around the conversation turned into how rehearsals were going, what my costume looked like, and which performance they were going to attend.

"'The Nutcracker' Season" of 2008, however, was a little different. I was finally eligible to audition for the coveted role of Clara and I don't know who was more nervous, me or my family. They listened to me talk about this role since I began dancing at the Kansas City Ballet and my mom, well, she'd been listening to me talk about it since I was four. It was my birthday wish every year, the only question I asked the magic eight ball, and the only thing on my Christmas list that year. Holding the letter, and my fate as a 12-year-old, in my hands was more nerve-wracking than receiving college letters.

Ultimately, my hard work, determination, and constant wishing paid off because for that "Nutcracker Season" I got to live my dream for 10 performances, including performing on my birthday. Is it sad if I say turning 13 is still my favorite birthday memory? Well, even if it is sad it's true. It was a dream come true. I knew that this role was a big deal, but I had no idea how special it really was until it was done. It's hard to believe that it's been seven years since then, but the tradition did not cease. This will be the 16th year in a row that my family has seen a production of "The Nutcracker" during the holiday season, and it's just as magical now as it was when I was four.

In our household it's not Christmas until the mouse king is defeated, Clara meets her prince, and the Sugar Plum Fairy dances. The memories and experience are unforgettable and there is no other tradition I would have rather grown up with. Every year I've seen "The Nutcracker" since my last performance as a part of the production, I've looked around me and all I've seen are the enormous smiles on everyone's faces. I feel extremely blessed to, at one point, have been part of the reason they were smiling. Christmas is a time to be merry and bright, and traditions, much like my own, are the reasons why Christmas is the happiest time of the year. You look forward to it all year, and every year, it somehow just keeps getting better.

If you have never had the opportunity to see a performance of "The Nutcracker," I highly encourage you to make it a part of your holiday season this year. The story is one for all ages and such a special treat for everyone to enjoy.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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