For a long time I’ve had two identities. Most days I’m a working mom, reliable, responsible and professional. I go to work, pay the bills, and do the things most mothers do to run a home and raise a child. But then there are those few nights a month I let go of all of my inhibitions and get in touch with the deepest part of myself. It’s a place I’ve never been able to describe, but have always needed to access to feel whole. With emotional hunger and a sense of abandon, I shed any trace of convention, walk into a crowded room with the company of four men… and pick up a microphone. The next few hours can only be described as transcendent, an amazing exchange of energy, expression and passion between musicians and an audience. People express their good-natured envy all the time; I’m a mom who gets to be a diva.
For me, Christmas isn’t just a day. It’s a month-long holiday, during which I feel like an awe-struck child. I savor every sign that the season is here – special treats lining the shelves of my local Italian deli, colorful lights that transform nighttime into a sparkling wonderland, carolers, the smell of pine and freshly cut trees strapped to the roofs of cars. Each day after Thanksgiving, my daughter and I “keep Christmas,” as Dickens says, in our own way, from little things like a glass of eggnog to larger things like our annual pilgrimage to Rockefeller Center and the surrounding city. The very first time I hear “White Christmas” (not just any version, mind you, it has to be Bing Crosby’s) I smile, knowing the season has truly arrived. It’s never been about the presents, you see. It’s always been about the undeniable mood that Christmas brings, one of hope, charity, sentimentality and a return to innocence. A grown woman with a child of my own, I’ve spent lots of Christmases this way, so the fact that I wasn’t “feeling it” this year wasn’t just disappointing… It was downright disturbing.
We are not created equal. Some of us are more graceful than others. Some don’t just sing a song – they emote it. And some of us create paintings so meaningful that they reach into the soul, inspiring others to “feel” more than is simply seen. And then there’s Alice Burla. One of the youngest students to ever be accepted into Juilliard, the award-winning prodigy doesn’t just play the piano. She communes with it.
Ask someone to hum the tune to “Ride of the Valkyries” and you may get a blank stare. But ask anyone to sing Elmer Fudd’s comic promise to “Kill the wabbit. Kill the wabbit. Kill the waaaaabbit….” and most people will sing along.Continue reading →