Giving a performance. It has a nice ring to it. You hear it all the time, “I can’t make it Friday. I’m giving a performance.” My husband really learned the meaning of the phrase shortly after we were married. He’s a non-performer and through the years, with great patience, he has learned the business.

Chuck and I were married at the end of August many years ago. That means the honeymoon was barely over before Nutcracker rehearsals began. Like clockwork every year, the Thanksgiving left-overs were barely cleaned up in time for the performances to begin. I gave performances first as a dancer then as a teacher and rehearsal coach. If Nutcracker wasn’t enough, I found another avenue for holiday giving. A Christmas Carol. Just about the time it seemed I was going to phase out this part of my life, our daughters began to follow suit. I can not remember a holiday season in our married life that didn’t have a Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol at its core.

One year our daughter Rebecca and I actually did double duty. She was appearing in American Conservatory Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol at the Geary Theater while I was performing the Mouse Queen role in The Nutcracker at the Marin Civic Center. That was a busy Christmas.

It wasn’t too many years later when our youngest two daughters, Abigail and Jessica began their Nutcracker careers with The San Francisco Ballet performing on the Opera House stage where I had danced many years before. We had really come full circle.

A neighbor once asked me how we coped with our busy holiday season. When I thought about it I realized that these weren’t “bah, humbug” holidays. They were our personal gift to the community. It was our Christmas Stocking and we were sharing it. We were really part of a “giving” tradition. For many families these holiday productions around the world are the spirit of the holidays. For those of you beginning rehearsals so that you can carry on the joy of the tradition, we thank you. I’ll be there with my children and grandchildren to enjoy your gift as I know many others will.