Watching a kid with a bowl cut digging for gold with half his finger inside his nose goes from "predictable" to "entertaining" when it's unscripted. One experiences true suspense when the star of Bethlehem almost loses her skirt. And I had to wonder if one little girl's parents were to be commended for their foresight in dressing her in many layers, or if they'd just gotten lucky when she lifted only the top layer of sparkly tulle over her head.
Nels has always had a very theatrical personality (insert wisecrack about his parentage here) and I've always suspected that he'd take to the stage like a fish to water. He was so excited about the Christmas program and the prospect of being on stage. So of course I was full of anticipation to see what the experience would be like for him.
When he first came onstage with his class, it was to sing "Feliz Navidad" (or "Feliz Nobby Dob," as he likes to say it.) He looked around for us with no success for a good long time, puffing out his cheeks like a blowfish all the while. We've never seen him do that before. Finally he spotted us, and his face just lit up.
"I want to wish YOU a Merry Christmas," he sang, pointing his finger emphatically, his arm completely outstretched. I promise you, his eyes twinkled. The kids sang on for what seemed like forever, chorus after chorus, and each time Nels looked me in the eye and pointed and smiled.
I don't know why this affected me so, but I could feel my face getting all warm and prickly. It was almost embarrassing to have such a strong emotional reaction. It's like what I've always imagined when some women describe the feeling of holding their baby in their arms for the first time. When I first held my boys, I felt no rush of positive emotion. I felt mad (Nels) and tired (Willem.) Of course I have always loved my kids tremendously, but it was nice to be whacked over the head with the feeling of "You are my son, and to have you in my life to love is a miracle."
Wow, did Nels love being on stage. Once or twice he went into opera mode, his mouth open as far as it could go and his eyes rolled back. He also made several faces, as though he were acting out a scene.
In the photo below, Nels is either starting or wrapping up a grand bow. No, none of the children were asked to bow. Yes, after every song he sang, Nels grabbed the hand of the friend next to him and initiated an elaborate bow from the waist to the floor.
That's my boy.