In the true spirit of the season, this weekend will have a bit of everything…. and probably just too much. In addition to the usual weekend domestic life of laundry & shopping, paperwork & dog park, activities are planned that range from High Culture and Hoch Deutsch to the Dollar Store; with a stop along the way to visit the soon-to-be Baby Jesus. There will be joy, sadness, reflection, frustration and predictable, inevitable, embarrassment. And, to paraphrase Paul Thomas Anderson’s film title; ‘There Will Be Cocktails’.
Everything Is Beautiful At The Ballet
We kicked off the High Culture, and cocktails, last night with Ballet Arizona’s annual production of “The Nutcracker”. I had never been to the ballet until 6-7 years ago but since then “The Nutcracker” has become a minor holiday tradition. “Fun Fact to Know and Tell”; “The Nutcracker” was first performed 12o years ago; December 18, 1892. This year’s production was exactly the same as prior year’s which is both reassuring and a little boring. There were some rough spots in the dancing but, on the whole, it was well done. It’s always nice to attend an event at Symphony Hall where the audience includes children. This was not my ‘growing-up’ experience but the story is made for children and they seem to enjoy it. They also spend their time alternating between talking and kicking the back of my chair but, there it is; the good and the bad. Because the production has not changed, Harper’s Other Dad and I have decided the new holiday tradition will be to see “The Nutcracker” in the even-numbered years and see “The Messiah” in the odd-numbered years. I am sure the Handel estate needs our money as much as the heirs of Tchaikovsky heirs.
I Hope There Is An Elephant
Saturday morning we will attend The Met’s “Live In HD” broadcast of “Aida”. To my mind, this opera put the “grand” in ‘grand opera’. It certainly put in the “Grand March”. The productions are typically lavish spectacles and this production appears to be no exception. My best friend Wikipedia tells me, contrary to popular belief, including my own, the opera was not written to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. Actually, it was commissioned by an Egyptian Pasha for delivery in January of 1871. The first performance was in Cairo in December of 1871. Apparently the delay had something to do with the Franco-Prussian War. So this work is also celebrating an anniversary this month; its 141st. Based on past experiences at the HD broadcasts, I will be sitting near a Scottsdale matron who attended the premier…… and who is unhappy about some aspect of this morning’s seating arrangements. Oh well; there it is; the good and the bad.
Vielleicht Vor Zwanzig Jahre, Aber Jetzt……
Saturday evening we will attend a party at the home of friends. A retired couple; she originally from Germany, they host a wonderful Christmas party every year. Their Christmas decoration are over-the-top beautiful and never the same two years in a row. They are active in the local German club so we are among a minority of guests who are not German speakers. I studied German in school from grade 7 into college. The same is true for Harper’s Other Dad. As a result we are able to follow along relatively well listening to conversations as we mingle. But then we try to speak. I’ve discovered that I struggle less for vocabulary than for grammar. I can usually come up with the noun from some dusty cellar of memory, but then fumble the basics of ‘his’ vs. ‘their’ or ‘our’ vs. ‘us’. Over the years I have adopted a modified social contract. If I understand what they said in German then I have made my contribution to cultural diversity. After a few awkward attempts. I start responding in English. In most cases their English is better than my German anyway and I take comfort in knowing I won’t see them again until next December.
You Gotta Ring Them Bells
Harper’s Other Dad is substituting in the bell choir at St. Joan of Arc this holiday season. Tomorrow’s 8:30 Mass will be their first ‘show’. I was raised as a Southern Baptist but am not active in any community of faith. Over the years I have come to regard myself as a “C&E Catholic”. I attend Mass at Christmas and Easter. I’ve learned when to stand up and when to sit down. I usually know the correct congregation response to what the priest says and learned long ago I can always fall back on that generic, nondescript mouth movements that drag queens use when they forgot the lyrics while lip-synching. I learned quickly that “Lord Hear Our Prayer” is preferable to “Hallelujah” and I always sit out communion lest I burst into flames which is what I’m told happens when Host makes contact with a Protestant. Tomorrow, however, is neither ‘C’ nor ‘E’ so Harper and I will drop her Other Dad off at church and we’ll venture to the Dog Park. That way I can enjoy the bells as a new experience when I see them on Christmas Eve.
Sunday afternoon is often show tunes at a local pub. Hopefully Liza will sing ‘Ring Them Bells’ to commemorate the day; or at least Cabaret…. or NY NY. Actually those last two are a given. I also need to stop at the Dollar Store or World Market at some point. I realize I’ve neglected to buy stocking-stuffers that must be mailed to Michigan to arrive in time for Christmas.
In any case, I choose to start the day with my favorite song from that other Aida; the Elton John/Tim Rice version. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!