My mother took me to see “The Nutcracker” ballet most years of my youth. At the time, I saw in the tradition the treasured Junior Mints from the concession stand, the plush seats I’d kneel on in my Mary Janes and tartan dress, the thrilling hush of the theater as the set emerged from velvet curtain folds, the magic that unfurled on the stage.
Now, I look back and different, wider meanings glint at me.
I see the attention of the woman I love best in the world: how sitting as my mother’s companion made me feel more like a girlfriend than a daughter. Our hands would meet in the Junior Mint box, or we’d whisper about Clara’s costume, and I’d feel a rush of closeness. It’s true, what Simon Weil said: “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” Especially when you are one of five children.
I see also the way The Nutcracker temporarily absconded us from the freneticism of the holiday season, creating a tenuous still in its center. There would be parties and gifts and the blaring, festive cycle of The Winter Wonderland record in our living room, but for the few hours we were at the ballet, the noise of the season dwindled to a low hum, replaced instead by staged magic, and our mute, shared entrancement by it.
Funny, the way time can do that, as though turning the kaleidoscope. Because when it comes down to it, our Nutcracker tradition had less to do with concessions and costumes and more to do with presence, and connection.
I’ve been reflecting on this as I raise my own two children. What are the traditions I choose to honor this holiday season? What do they say, and what am I really passing on to my children in their re-visitings?
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+Aren’t we always raising future versions of ourselves?
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01. DEE OCLEPPO HEELS // 02. LILA HAYES GIRL’S DRESS // 03. KNIT DOLL // 04. NUTCRACKER STORY ORCHESTRA BOOK // 05. J. CREW TARTAN DRESS // 06. LITTLE ENGLISH NUTCRACKER SWEATER // 07. MON AMI NUTCRACKER ORNAMENTS
+Zara has such fun holiday footwear. How great are these $50 heels?!
+Hanni sent over a few of their products and OMG. I’m obsessed with the splash salve and water balm, which you can buy individually or as a “bestseller” bundle for a discount. You apply the salve in-shower and do not need to apply lotion afterward — skin feels buttery soft and hydrated after — but the water balm (which is an easy-to-apply spray!) leaves your skin ultra-silky. I was honestly astounded by the results. You will not stop touching your skin! It feels divine! I also kind of love the idea of “skincare for the lazy girl” (or busy girl). It feels like each of their products removes or streamlines steps of the showering process. The spray-on balm is such a clever application. You can also buy the water balm in this bundle with Gwyneth’s favorite hair clip.
+My most recent trip led me to order some AirTags for my roll-a-boards. I’m finding that I am usually forced to gate-check a bag these days (and/or United will not give you space for a roll-a-board if you are in economy / do not have premier status). This is nice peace of mind if bag goes missing, but also handy, logistically, for knowing whether your bag is even remotely close to being placed on the claim. More great travel gear here, and the best travel tips (crowd-sourced from Magpies!) here.
+My children love the “Story Orchestra” books, especially the Nutcracker one. The illustrations are lovely and you can hear Tchaikovsky’s music by pressing a button on each page. (The Swan Lake one is also a favorite.)
+I bought my children Nutcracker-themed jammies in anticipation of our viewing this year. I also love these (ultra-soft — size up one size for your children, as these run snug!) and these (also comes in the sweetest nightgown format).
+I’m planning to dress my son in this sweater and my daughter in this dress for this year’s performance. These personalized hair bows would be cute for a little lady, too. For a more casual affair: this sweatshirt!
+For dressing myself up for “The Nutcracker” (and other holiday festivities) — shared some thoughts (and a try-on!) here, but also love these glitzy heels, this tulle midi (look for less here; layer over a black midi-length slip), and this embellished cardigan. Also love the idea of incorporating tartan somehow. Love these platform heels or this tartan dress.
+More showstopping holiday/festive looks here.
+This isn’t explicitly “Nutcracker,” but this sweet knit doll reminds me of Clara. I gave my daughter a similar doll for her first “Nutcracker” experience (seen above). This year, I surprised her with this “Nutcracker” sticker book and this Nutcracker-themed sensory play kit.
+For an itty bitty baby!