When my three children were young, my parents attended every event: sports days, commencement exercises, games, birthdays, Christmas concerts, the works. It was a routine they have kept up with all their grandchildren, my sister's two boys, now University students, Joel and Scott and my brothers children, Seth, Taylor and Lindsey. My oldest daughter is 33. Lindsey is a high school freshman. That tells you how many years they have been doing the grandparent duties.
My father is out again tonight. It is "hockey night in Canada" for the junior leagues. My nephew, his grandson, Seth is playing so father is off to watch the game just as he goes out to every game and every event his grandchildren are involved in. Normally Taylor would be playing tonight also but he is sick so is staying home. Together he and his brother are known as "the handsome brothers." They make quite a pair on and off the ice.
My father says that for many years he didn't really know if the grandchildren knew or cared whether he was there at their events or not. Now he knows they knew and they really cared. They would always looked to see if he was in the audience.
Tonight the torch was passed to a new generation, so to speak.
My grand-daughters Hailey and Sabrina live many, many miles away and so I have never been able to go to any of their concerts or sports games or who-have-you. But tonight was grand daughter Sharleigh's kindergarten Christmas concert and she lives here in this community. I could attend.
Not only could I attend, apparently I had to attend. Sharleigh had her mother call me not once, but twice. "Tell Poppa my Christmas concert is tonight." That is a message a grandfather cannot ignore.
Christmas concerts haven't changed since my children were young. I don't think they have changed any since I was young. Hundreds of parents crowding into an undersized, overheated gymnasium to proudly watch their offspring perform, cameras snapping, flashes popping and all to wild applause. Well, not just parents but grandparent also. My flash popped, my camera snapped, and I applauded.
Kids are all the same. I love watching the expressions on their faces. Each one is different. Each one expressing an entirely different emotion.
Well, I don't really need to say anything about the experience. You have all been their with your own children or with your grandchildren or with someone else's children. You know the drill. The play never goes out of fashion.
You always have to watch the performances of someone else's children. Even if your kid is in kindergarten because they have preliminaries now, don't you know. Even though they aren't your children you clap anyway and you mean it because they were all so damn cute and because it is the Christmas season and a little bit of good will is beginning to trickle into everyone's heart for a change.
Then it is your child or you grandchild or your niece or your nephews turn. The curtain opens and, of course, the first thing you do is look for your kin in that sea of little faces. Once you have them pinned down then you take in the wider scene. You wave at your own hoping they see you and you think they might because they wave back even though they aren't suppose to and then you realize, because you were young once too, that they can't see you at all and are just waving because they know they are loved and that them that love them will be waving at them. Sharleigh is in the red dress on the right.
And then it is all over. The little urchins file off stage and back to their classrooms where the teachers will all do admirable duty keeping them quiet until the festivities are over (Sharleigh's class were watching a movie).
Then you sit and watch everyone else's kid because that is the polite thing to do and, well, in the spirit of the season, you enjoy the performances of the kids you don't know.
My daughter Christina went to this school when she was in kindergarten. Her first Christmas concert was here. Tonight was her daughter's night.
The walls of this school are lined with the class photos of all the kids that ever attended there. Christina's photo is still there. Sharleigh's will be there soon also. Christina is the blondie in the second row, second from the left.
Time marches on.
(Originally posted to Multiply December 11, 2008)