Watching the Nutcracker Ballet 22 Times
I Am Not Joking
–By Jan McInnis, Comedian and Keynote Speaker
Being on stage as a comedian and keynote speaker isn’t the only times I go to the theatre. I’ve sat through the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” in the Nutcracker so many times I could dance it myself. . . except no one would cast me because all the male dancers would quit if they thought they had to lift me up. (I am not light as a fairy!) But I bet my rendition would keep the audience awake. . .mostly hoping that I didn’t trip and fall on them, or maybe waiting for me to. Great comedy material . .. for others anyway!
I didn’t see these shows in one big weekend Nutcracker marathon but rather once a year for the past 22 years as an annual holiday family tradition— one that my mom started and that we’ve continued at the beautiful Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C. since her passing. We’ve had some memorable moments, like the time when my little nephew saw a troop of mouse soldiers dancing and blurted out “Look, Mom, mice! Just like at our house!” The whole balcony cracked up, and my sister-in-law immediately jumped in with, “Remember, honey, Daddy took care of those.” That was almost funnier than me dancing.
My mom started some other traditions that we’ve kept up as well. During the holidays, the women in the family go to tea at the Ritz; way too much food and drink, but it’s relaxing! And during the summer, since my mom was such a huge baseball fan, we siblings and our families go to the Mom Memorial Nats Game to watch her cherished Washington Nationals. A couple years ago, we were treated to the no-hitter by Zimmerman.
I love traditions, and I’ve realized that they aren’t limited to just what you intentionally start: some of them occur organically. My three siblings and their families live 3000 miles away from me, but every time I visit, I am treated to some travel traditions that just sort of happened. When I arrive at one sister’s house, her son Ben always, without me saying anything, goes out to my rental car and brings in my stuff. He knows I’m tired! At my brother’s house, I automatically hand my computer to his oldest kid, Drew, and ask him to “get me on the internet.” When I wake up the next morning, I’m on! (Though he probably does it in part so that I don’t wake him at 7 a.m. asking for help.) And at my other sister’s house, her youngest son Noah always runs out to the rental car, as I pull up, with a football so we can toss it around before I go inside. He taught me how to throw a spiral.
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