Spirit: One Perfect Christmas Thing

The week had been nothing short of hellacious. We were slammed at work with an epic crisis. I somehow ended up taking a 36-hour shift with only a four-hour sleep break. I am not a doctor or firefighter or a coal miner or an air-traffic controller by day, mind you. I work in a grey cubicle. In my extreme exhaustion, I felt unappreciated and undervalued and like the littlest thing could shatter me. Which it did.

Our daycare was closed and I was expected to return to work after said 36-hour shift. I needed something in the office, so I packed up my baby and took her in while I collected my computer so I could work from home and watch Grace. Gracie is a very good baby. She smiles at strangers and hangs out on the floor and plays with her toes and gurgles. Everybody falls madly in love with her, even the guys who work in the TMobile store.

Without going into details, my baby and I were unceremoniously dismissed. A liability, they called it.

I went to the parking lot and cried, feeling like a child scolded for an innocent transgression. Grace wailed all the way home.

That night I had tickets to the Joffrey Nutcracker, where my 10-year-old neighbor/BFF was dancing the part of a Snow Angel. My husband was stuck working, so Gracie and I put on our Christmas best and headed to the ballet.

We sat in the nosebleed section, getting the stink eye from the usher, who made sure I knew that if she cried we’d need to exit. Gracie settled in. The overture began, the lights dimmed, and guests began to arrive at Clara’s party. The Snow Queen floated amid sparkly drifts to her King.

Ballet is perfect for a 6-month-old, by the way, as it’s all action and music, never a still moment, always changing light and something different to see. Grace was silently entranced on my lap for about 20 minutes, then settled into a deep sleep.

I thought about how my dad used to take me to the ballet and to musical theater — it was our “thing” together — and I so wanted to share with him these perfect moments of peace and art and beauty strung together, the twinkling lights of the soul. Wherever he is.

Joffrey Ballet Nutcracker 2008 from Sasha Fornari on Vimeo.

Vanessa McGradySpirit: One Perfect Christmas Thing

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