If there is a Seattle Christmas tradition that is more beloved than the Pacific Northwest Ballet's annual production of the Nutcracker, I'm not sure what it might be. Sure, some may look forward to the lighting of the tree at Westlake following Thanksgiving, but that is a more casual affair, while the Nutcracker is a true "event". And there are those who go to the Nutcracker almost every year, perhaps to see their children or friends' children join the company on stage in a real professional production, or because of the enduring charm of the Maurice Sendak-disigned sets, the fairy-tale costumes, or Tchaikovsky's inspiring music (although Tchaikovsky himself would take issue with that last one - he felt that the Nutcracker was possibly his worst composition, and was terribly disappointed by it).
Years ago, Michael and I saw PNB's Nutcracker for the first time. We had splurged on second tier box seats, and I was almost as excited as one of the six-year-old girls who flock to the Christmas ballet dressed in their best holiday party dresses and clutching a favorite doll or stuffed animal. And it truly was magical; the Christmas tree grew to the size of a monster, snowflakes drifted down from above as snowflake ballerinas danced below, and dolphins jumped through the waves as Clara and the prince sailed off to his exotic kingdom where we would all be feted by dancers ranging from peacocks to a playful, typically Sendakian monster.
This year was our first back, as we joined a group of more than 40 people from our church in the upper balcony. Sure, the view wasn't as good, but the magic was still there. To be sure, a couple of the teenage boys who had come looked less than thrilled at the prospect, but hopefully even they enjoyed it, just a little bit.