...the parents, rushing from home after throwing together a quick supper for the kids... one parent with a video camera bag tossed over one shoulder and the camera bag tossed over the other... the other parent towing the tripod and clinging to the hand of the younger sibling who already has to go to the bathroom, despite having gone 6 minutes ago.
...the teachers, all dressed in their best, rounding up students and counting heads and hushing loud voices and getting all the kids in order.
...the bribes and promises of treats to young siblings if they will be quiet and sit still for the length of the program... (and the prayers that the length of the program doesn't last longer than an episode of Go, Diego, Go.)
...the Grandmas, wearing their fanciest Christmas sweaters, reading through the program to see if dear grandchild's name is listed anywhere, and the Grandpas, visiting with other Grandpas a few rows down, discussing the most recent snowstorm.
And then it begins.
The lights dim and the curtain opens and there is a sudden commotion in the audience as the parents, who are quite old enough to know they should be sitting quietly, can't resist the urge to wave with the hopes that little Sally will see where they are sitting and smile at them.
Oh, and the kids. The performers. They do nothing but make me smile.
The little boy with gel in his hair and a crooked tie... the little girl with a big smile on her face, curls in her hair, and tights already sliding down her legs... another boy that seems to be wearing what he wore to school that day because everyone knows it was Chicken Nugget day and he has a ketchup stain on his shirt...
and we have the little girl who's not much of a dress girl, but is decked out in a shimmery little black dress, glittery tights, and cute little dress shoes.... a little girl who obviously should have practiced wearing her dress before the program, as during song #1, she discovers the big bow on the front of her dress, sticks her hand through one of the loops, and spends nearly the length of song #2 trying to get her hand out of the loop. (Yup, she was ours.)
Some kids know the songs and sing as if their life depended on it... others toss some words in here and there, but are more distracted by the little boy in the 3rd row who is whispering to his neighbor. Some kids are doing the actions to the songs precisely as taught... others are watching everyone else because during practices they were more concerned with talking to their friends than listening to the teacher.
We have the songs about needing teeth for Christmas, waiting for Santa to come, and wanting peace for the world. It's all there. We have some songs where instruments are necessary, and while the audience should be listening to the cute words of the song, instead they are more amused by the little boy who doesn't figure out how to untangle the loop on his jingle bells until the song is over.
There are the periodic, bright flashes from cameras, (despite the large sign on every entrance to the theatre that flash photography is discouraged.) Video cameras are running, younger siblings are hushed,
Holiday wishes are given, bows are taken, and the curtain is drawn.
The music teacher remembers that rehearsal on Friday went much better than the final performance, but breaths a huge sigh of relief that it's over, (and is thankful that Christmas only comes once a year.)
Parents grab their camera bags and bulky winter coats and younger siblings' hands and head through the sea of families to find their little star.
Hugs are given, more pictures are taken, and everyone bussles out the door and into the cold evening.
It really isn't Christmas until the Elementary School Music Christmas Program.