The tap number set to the “The Twelve Days of Christmas” had just hit six geese a-laying when Ada, my four-year-old, asked if we could leave. She’d slunk so far down in her seat that she was practically on the floor and she slunk further when I whispered that we were staying. Then the pear tree burst into flames again.
It was Ada’s first time seeing the “Christmas Spectacular” at Radio City Music Hall. And even though I’ve lived in New York for almost two decades, it was my first time, too. I grew up in Los Angeles, a place where people hang twinkly lights in palm trees and Santas run around in board shorts. Holiday shows have never done a lot for me.
But here’s the thing about children. You want to give them all the good things you had and a lot of the good things you didn’t have. Ada can handle a 90-minute show. She has sat through the circus and clapped along to Elephant & Piggie’s “We Are in a Play.” So when she saw the posters and asked if we could go, I said yes.
As we’d missed the press dates by about a month, I went online to TodayTix and scored a couple of discounted orchestra seats, $55 each, down from $100, which made me feel pretty savvy. The next morning she put on tights and a velvet dress while I packed a bag with water and granola bars and her sparkly shoes, because unlike me, Ada is a real New Yorker and she knows that we keep our sneakers on until we’re out of the subway.
Ours is an interfaith household. I was raised Jewish, my husband’s higher power is the Minnesota Vikings. On the train, I started to worry about the famous nativity scene. Ada has a little brother she mostly adores and sometimes resents. Wise men showering a baby boy with gifts might upset her. But she told me that thanks to her chocolate advent calendar, “I already know the Jesus part.” Fine work, chocolate.