Wednesday, December 09, 2009


We had looked in several stores already, hand in hand as we searched for the perfect dress for Sophie's holiday concert.

I use the term 'holiday' loosely. Sadly, this year's songs had little to do with the religious traditions of the season. Certain parents had objected to the idea of actually singing carols and folk songs so the school played it safe and chose songs about the environment, community, and the 'power of one'. Instead of Frosty the Snowman (how politically incorrect could one snowman be?), the audience got to hear about falling rain and snow on mountain peaks with no mention of a Winter Wonderland. Nonetheless, the kids did their part and learned all the non-offending lyrics well.

Parents and grandparents came, took pictures, applauded and affirmed their progeny. I was shamelessly taking digital pics and video recording throughout. The girls looked lovely and lively onstage. I missed the familiar refrains of familiar songs but couldn't help but enjoy the excitement Sophie and Hannah were feeling.

The sense of mystery and wonder which was missing from the secular concert was provided by Sophie's dress. After several stores and no luck, she and I turned a corner in Macy's and both let out a small gasp. I tightened my hold on her hand as she dared to ask, "Oh, Babci, it's so beautiful. Can we buy this one?"

This dress even had a miniature dress attached which would fit her American Girl doll. It was so well made and it was on a 50% reduced rack. I could not believe my eyes and Sophie's good fortune!

We found the fitting room and, as soon as she slipped into it, I knew that Sophie and this dress were meant for each other. As I helped her step out of the garment, I looked at the label and my heart leapt. This carefully made dress was a Cinderella fashion. Memories came flooding back. My grandmother, an immigrant who never learned how to read and write, knew how to sew. She, in fact, worked as a seamstress decades ago for a mill which made Cinderella dresses. I remember my mom telling me how my Babci would often save her wages and purchase the Cinderella dresses for her granddaughters. Here I was, finding a Cinderella dress for Sophie!

How I wish my mom and my Babci had lived long enough to see this new generation of grandchildren, to see the glow in Sophie's eyes as she became a Cinderella for her school concert. The songs, themselves, no longer mattered as much. The magic of the season was in the dress.


Terry said...

Sophie's dress is so lovely and suits her to a T. I see a modern girl with old fashioned charm. I am so distressed by seeing little girls dressed like hootchy mamas that it just thrills my heart to see a beautiful child in a beautiful dress like this. What a special connection the two of you have. I too, am saddened that the Christmas concerts are now so sterilized. I remember how choked up I used to get at the Elementary school concerts my kids were in. Twenty little Suzuki students, all dressed up, playing God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen on 20 tiny little violins was the heart and soul of Christmas for me.

Kathleen said...

A beautiful dress for a beautiful girl.

No Xmas or Hannukah songs? No Santa, or snowmen or anything? How foolish these schools are. They play these songs on the radio stations from Thanksgiving on ad nauseum but little kids are supposed to forgo the joy of santa and reindeer. Give me a break.

Becket Kate said...

This brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful story to share with us!
I agree that it's rather depressing how the spiritual side of the holidays gets downplayed and politically corrected, especially when you take the radio overplay into account. I'd rather listen to children singing those songs in a school ensemble; it's so much more touching!
You and Sophie have such a great bond.

sarah doow said...

How wonderful. That pretty dress was obviously meant for Sophie.

geogirl said...

A new post! A new post! I'm so excited!!!

Another great story as always. What a beautiful dress. It is perfect for her. I can't believe they couldn't even sing Winter Wonderland. What, they were afraid the other seasons would be offended?!?

Anonymous said... I see it Sophie is already a Cinderella because she has you as her real fairy grandmother!

Hope you are well dear momma of Jenn.


Patti McCracken said...


Meg said...

Such a sweet story. I'm so glad Sophie felt so special.

Jonquil said...

Hi, Mater. You write in this post, "Certain parents had objected to the idea of actually singing carols..." As one of those parents, I'd be happy to talk to you face to face about my reasoning. For your commenters who are saddened that the "spiritual side of the holidays" was "ignored" at this concert, a couple of points. This is not a religious school, it is a secular one. As such, the school has no business teaching religious songs or requiring my children to sing them. This was explicitly not a Christmas or holiday concert, but a winter concert. Sophie and Hannah, with a Christian mother and grandmother, may be perfectly comfortable singing Christmas songs, but some non-Christian children are not. My oldest child has been in tears for days before, during, and after this concert every year since she was first in it. She is miserably unhappy when she is required to sing Christmas songs. Unless you have been a minority child in our culture, it may be hard for you to understand the deep feeling of exclusion and dismissal that she has struggled with every Christmas. For that matter, I don't want her or other children singing Channukah songs or any other explicitly religious songs in school. Let me take care of her religious education in my own home and place of worship. You do the same. If you want to hear a Christmas concert, organize one at your church or in your home, where attendance is optional. Not in my children's school, where their attendance is mandatory. Perhaps you feel you would have enjoyed the concert more if you'd heard some Christmas music. Is it worth my daughter's tears to you?

Sorry if this comment feels a little strident, but this is a bit of a sore point with me. I'm just a mom who's trying to protect her children. And as I said, I'd be happy to meet with you face to face to talk about this topic anytime. If you're interested, send me an email, and we'll make a coffee date.

Lori said...

Such a beautiful story - coming full circle. Providence ~ :-)