Christmas comes but once a year, but A Christmas Carol runs 65 times. With my students performing at DC’s Ford’s Theatre and my 81-year-old mom visiting from Seattle, I gave Mom tickets to the beloved holiday classic. But there was an extra surprise with this Christmas present.
What Mom didn’t know was that these three kiddos riding in the backseat were actually IN the show. Aidan, Ainsley, and Vaughn, piled in the back seat, knowing that “Grandma” was in for a shock when they morphed into Tiny Tim, Fan, and Peter Cratchit on stage. I explained we were just dropping them off at the theatre and that they’d be meeting up with friends. “They’re not sitting with us?” Mom asked bewildered. The threesome carefully guarded their secret.
There were a few complications…. Rain pelted my car, reducing visibility but increasing hydroplaning, resulting in two traffic-stopping accidents. The Ford’s child wrangler (yes that’s what they’re called), expected them at a set time. I was panicked. Would I fail my mission? What if (gulp), the trio didn’t make curtain?
At last we pulled up to Ford’s Theatre with a minute to spare and the three jumped out onto the rainy street and ran into the lobby while we found a parking garage.
Our seats were directly beneath President Lincoln’s box seat, six rows from the front. The show began with characters singing in the audience. Fan (Ainsley) walked right by us. Ainsley’s hair was now done up in braids and she had a beautiful pink early 1800’s costume. Mom smiled, not recognizing the little girl in the backseat of my Prius. “That’s Ainsley” I pointed out. Two boys caroled on stage. “And there’s Vaughn and Aidan.”
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” Mom asked, her mouth dropping open.
From then on, must to Mom’s delight, I pointed out her kids. Mom wore a huge smile on her face throughout the show and at intermission began telling the Christmas Present story to the stranger next to her. The trio’s performances were outstanding, this voice teacher was PROUD, and my mom was in love with her new friends. “I rode with celebrities!” she bragged. Though it had taken 2.25 hours to get there, the drive home was an hour of giggling, chatter, and so much less drama.
The Upside of the Story is that sometimes it’s nice to have a story to tell. Mom has a lot of Christmas pasts (80 to be specific) and enjoyed a beautiful Christmas Present. Mom has the picture, the program, and an adventure to tell her retirement community who can live the event vicariously for many a Christmas Future.
Just the ticket for an Upside: “God bless us everyone!”