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The Nutcracker

It was the land of the Sugar Plum Fairies last night, a Christmas tradition we’ve now held for five years, I believe, but it goes back even further if you count all the times I went as a teenager.

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The girls’ dresses Trish Scully, hair clips Giddy Up and Grow

We begin our tradition at the Ritz Carlton where we eat fancy desserts in the lobby, ooh and ahh over the giant gingerbread house and twirl through the hallways as we peruse every decorated corner–the garlands, the lights, the wreaths.

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If you are ever in Naples near Christmas, you have to visit the Ritz. Come at tea hour if you can–for the sugar cubes–but definitely come to see the gingerbread house–like, a real gingerbread house. The Ritz chefs spend over 1,000 hours constructing it from 1,200 gingerbread bricks and–get this–60,000 pieces of candy.

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It’s a little Christmas miracle.

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Lainey’s buddy Maggie–a.k.a. my fourth child–came with us again this year, and I loved watching the two of them giggling throughout the night.

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We normally have Miami City Ballet perform the Nutcracker in Naples–which is beautiful, by the way–but this year it was Moscow Ballet, and it was truly spectacular. The set and costumes were exquisite, and I always add extra points for a Nutcracker performance when the Arabian coffee dancers get all Cirque du Soleil. Lord have mercy, the ab work they did on stage last night–so many clapping interruptions. At one point, they were bent all cockeyed and blowing so many minds with their poses, I heard the older gentleman in a suit behind me say “Holy Shit.”

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Mostly, I’m grateful for the memory, for the opportunity to drink up these little things I love so much. Nella was lying in my arms–awake, but slumped in all comfy–during the Pas de Deux, my favorite part of the entire performance when I feel like Tchaikovsky is strumming the damn strings of my soul. And watching the ballet with that music, my girl’s cheek pressed against my chest and growing legs dangling further past my knees this year–it was this intense fusion of Motherhood and Art, two of my greatest loves–loves that are both so big, my receptors can barely handle such intense recognition of them together like that. The result feels like ectasy. But then again, I feel things too much.

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Our Christmas Bucket List gets another check, and my heart grows a little more to contain it.

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xo grateful. and I mean that in the least hashtag-blessed kind of way, truly.

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Leave a Comment
  1. I am buying one of those dresses for my daughter today.
    They are absolutely beautiful (and not tight/constricting which she hates!).
    What a lovely evening and you have inspired me to take my daughter to tea this holiday season!

  2. I am almost 34 years old and my mom and I have attended The Nutcracker for almost every year for 30 years. Believe me when I say that your girls will remember it forever. It is one of our favorite traditions. We will be going on December 22 this year. Hoping for some cold weather to make it even more magical!

  3. I love this tradition of yours. What a special night to spend with your littles. My daughters have danced with the Moscow Ballet for many years (snowflakes, party guests, Russian dancers, the rats). It’s a beautiful show!

  4. Lalura Ortiz says:

    It’s like dreaming awake when I’m reading your posts, I especially identify with you with the though of Motherhood and Art.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful night at The Nutcracker…

  5. I was wondering if you think a kid with a very short attentions span could sit through this at 7 and 10 years old? I long to go every year especially after you review it and I just don’t want to have to get annoyed at the kids for getting bored half way through……

    • A 2 hour ballet performance sitting in the cramped chairs of an antique theatre can challenge the attention span of most adults never mind young children. I have an 8 year old with special needs and what works for us is a matinee and an exit strategy with lots of breaks. She loves the fanfare – getting dressed up, going into the city as well as the treats and nutcrackers for sale in the lobby. Often we stay in the lobby after intermission and never rejoin our family for the 2nd act. Funny part is we are never alone. Many friends are made in the lobby. The Nutcracker to her is more about the days events and less about the actual performance. We also find that local community ballet performances are more kids friendly and shorter.

  6. Ameera Tran says:

    What a beautiful, sweet tradition you have!!! My four year old daughter is absolutely in love with The Nutcracker and I can’t wait to take her one of these days. Thanks so much for the post!

  7. I LOVE YOUR dress! Or top and skirt. I can’t tell which, but can see enough to see how lovely!

  8. LOVE the girls’ dresses. I was off to buy one for my daughter, but came back to ask…were there any complaints from your girls regarding fabric/lace itching? My daughter likes fancy, but comfy.

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