Friday, November 24, 2006

first christmas music of the season

Today is Friday, a day I attempt not to go out of the house, not because it's Friday but because of the particular Friday that today is. I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving, as I did, and I hope everyone is not shopping and leaving the stress of the crowds to those dumb enough to be shopping today.

This isn't a rant about Christmas, as a season, stretching itself to begin earlier than it ought. We are still at a point where I can mostly ignore that, unless it's coming at us before Halloween, that truly sacred holiday. This is a happy post about a sort of family tradition.

Over the years past, since Big Brother was born, we've begun a near tradition, or at least I have. One of my favorite bits of Christmas is Tchaikovsky's music to The Nutcracker. Having seen the ballet a few times, I can almost picture the scenes as the music plays, but that isn't really a part of my listening. I just love Tchaikovsky and his music, and his music for The Nutcracker is possibly at the very top of that list.

I haven't read the story since last year, nor have I listened to the music since last year. It is Christmas music after all, as far as I'm concerned, and part of its being special is that we save it, waiting to listen till the season is upon us. With Thanksgiving over, I am mostly ready for the season to be upon us. It's time to watch A Christmas Story and Elf, two favorite Christmas movies.

Perhaps tonight, while Momma slaves over the hot sushi stove, I will sit with the boys and read about Herr Drosselmeyer and Maria and the toy soldier as he battles the mouse king. We have a great version of the book that is illustrated by Maurice Sendak based on work he did with the Pacific Northwest Ballet. It is a translation of the original story by E.T.A. Hoffman The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, not the shortened and more popular version by Alexandre Dumas on which the ballet itself was based.

As we prepare for the Christmas holidays and the end of the year, go and find a translation. Watch the ballet if you want, but make a point of reading this wonderful story as it was originally written. I think you'll find it worthwhile.