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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Advent Calendar - December 13 - Christmas and the Arts

[Note: This post is a recollection from a series of Advent Calendar posts which were originally part of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted here atDestination: Austin Family in December 2007 with the assistance of the wonderful Jasia at Creative Gene.]

Holiday Entertainment

Well this isn't a tough post for me - just trying to organize all the different plays, shows, concerts and more that my family has seen around Christmas as well as those in which we've participated.

There are always the ubiquitous Christmas concerts in grade school and high school as well as highly entertaining Christmas pageants at church - especially if something doesn't go exactly right! These pageants are, to me, one of the best forms of holiday entertainment because we all know the story but it is the interpretation that always charms us. While I was never in a pageant, I did sing in grade school choir and very often did solo work. I do remember one year, I believe I was in 5th or 6th grade, where we were asked to entertain a local nursing home with our Christmas concert repetoire.

And as I've said in earlier posts, I grew up only 90 miles northwest of New York City. So I fondly remember trips to Radio City Music Hall where we would see a movie, usually Disney, followed by the Christmas Show with the Rockettes. Very neat especially to see them up close and in person. My mother also grew up going into Manhattan with her grandmother to see the Rockettes. But her absolute favorite memory was going to see the movie Cheaper By The Dozen with her other 11 sibilings. The manager of the movie theater told her father that if he could prove that all the kids were his, admission was free. He quickly ran home and brought back those 12 birth certificates!

I outgrew the performance bug in high school but oddly, it came back around 1993. I was involved with several church organizations in San Francisco and I remember holiday concerts and lots of solo work. Each small choir I was in had a dearth of tenors but I tended to be the only bass/baritone in the group and willing to belt 'em out. Nowadays, I can usually be found cutting up with friends in piano bars and singing the Bob Rivers version of Winter Wonderland entitled "Walkin' 'Round in Women's Underwear."

Finally, I now enjoy performances by the men's acapella group Chanticleer as well as attending any sing-along Messiah performance here in Chicago. But hands down, my all-time favorite holiday event was the Dance-Along Nutcracker™ in San Francisco. Started in 1985, it is put on by the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band™ and is absolutely hysterical. They have an area where you can rent tutus, masks and other props or you can being your own. People are dancing on the stage and in the aisles of a huge concert hall. Nothing in my mind could be more fun and it always brings out the child in everyone.

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