In the 1947 Christmas film The Bishop’s Wife (which I highly recommend if you haven’t seen it), one of the characters, a college professor, suggests that the holidays are a good time for looking backward. Nostalgia and memories certainly seem to be an integral part of this season. Emotions, both joyful and painful, can flood one’s heart and mind alongside these memories. Images of lost loved ones, remembrances of past friendships, family traditions, funny stories, and everything in between.
A large part of my nostalgic reminiscences this year has involved dance and “The Nutcracker,” undoubtedly, because I recently performed in this ballet for the first time in many years. It was truly a joyous experience to be a part of it all again. Nutcracker, as with all shows, can bond people together and facilitate camaraderie. Carpooling to and from theaters in and out of town, hours-long rehearsals, waiting around in dressing rooms, cheering on friends and colleagues from the stage wings, enduring and laughing at all the random mishaps, mistakes, and bloopers that inevitably occur when all the various dance, stage production, and musical elements are combined. And, of course, the unpredictability, nerves, and exhilaration of performances. All of this can come together to produce memorable moments.
Naturally, performing in a Nutcracker again evoked memories of the people and places connected with my past Nutcracker experiences. So many people who were my best friends, my teachers, so much excitement, laughter, hard work, tears, so much of what my life and my family’s life was like at that point. Looking back through the lens of intervening years and experiences, I can now appreciate even more the sweetness of those times. It would be fun to have a time machine to transport me back if just for a day.
But I am also reminded of this Lewis Carroll quote: “It’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” My friends and I were still kids, dreaming about what we would all be and do. We were different people back then–not just age-wise but emotionally, spiritually. Nevertheless, I believe the heart of those friendships is still there. I still truly care about all those people, even though I have lost touch with some of them, and I would welcome the serendipitous crossing of our paths once again.
“Some people come into your life for a reason, others only for a season.” And some, I have learned, may enter, exit, and then re-enter one’s life when one isn’t expecting it…just like a dancer on a stage. It is cool to be old enough to have gained the perspective to see how God can intertwine various aspects, experiences, and people in one’s life. Some people that I danced with years ago and but with whom I lost touch, are now back by my side in the studio on a daily basis. I consider it a providential gift and a happy surprise when occurrences such as that happen.
One shouldn’t live in the past because doing so blinds one to the blessings and lessons of the present moment. However, now and then, perhaps during the holidays, it is good for one’s spirit to indulge in nostalgia and to travel down memory lane, to cherish what one had because it most certainly contributed to the person one is today.
Cheers to you, Nutcracker, and to all my friends, old and new, who are ineffably a part of those oh so memorable days!