I sat in the back of the Sk’aadgaa Naay gymnasium awaiting the sugary voices rejoicing Christmas songs at the Winter Concert. This activity was something that I have not had to do since my children were in elementary school. The stage production included a painted field of snow-covered pine trees and a log cabin in the distance. The Christmas concert began when the lights went out and Liam Pollard addressed the audience members in Haida. The spotlight was on the next generation for an evening as a reminder of whom Christmas is for.
As the kindergarten class took the stage proud claps and cheers filled the room. Rob’s nephew, Tegan, nervously closed his eyes as he sang and gestured with his classmates. He practiced beforehand and he whispered to his mom: “If I close my eyes, I won’t be so nervous.” I cheered for Ms. Karrow’s class as they sang and danced their way through Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Tegan’s coping skills and reasoning were spot on. As he eased into the final verse of Jingle Bells, he opened his eyes for a moment. He smiled through his nerves.
I cheered for Ms. Watkins’ class, as Lebron is in this class. The Christmas sweaters in bright red and green added to the spirit of season. The class gleefully sang about how the penguin walked and even showed us how the penguin glided across the ice. I noticed at how his eyes tried to scan past the lights into the crowd for his family. I snapped some photos without him noticing me so as not to distract him. His big smile at his classmate filled my heart. He’s so sweet.
As I sat there clapping and silently singing, a few audible syllables escaped my mouth like the catchy “an eagle in a pine tree” from the Twelve Days of Christmas Haida Gwaii. The memories of my own children at this age overwhelmed me. When I heard the drums sound for the Huron Carol I was transported to my own Grade 6 Christmas concert with Ms. Vallancourt. I cringed as the refrain rung out. My partner laughed at my visceral reaction to a childhood memory. Tom Jackson would have been proud of the Haida Gwaii rendition by Mrs. Peerless’ class. I smiled as I whispered to my partner “I’ve been hit by the Christmas spirit.”
After the heartwarming Christmas concert, we were left carrying a little Jingle Bell Rock in our spirits. Remember to take care of those with tender hearts and wipe those tears away when they fall. Love and respect are always free. Merry Christmas, Skidegate and Haida Gwaii!