All I Want For Christmas Is For Sniffle Season To End

Holding the tissue between my thumb and index finger, I pinched Hannah’s nose, wiping up the mucous for the fifth time that morning. There was no way she could go to her dance recital. I wasn’t going to be the mom who pretended she was fine, just so I could snap a picture of her on stage in her jazz costume. Although my heart broke at the thought of missing it.

“Can I still go to dance? I’m not coughing,” she assured me. Then she licked the stream of snot that had started to drip from her nose again.

We’d have to call in sick.

“Babe, I’m sorry. I don’t think we can go today.” I swept in with another wipe that caught her off guard.

“Mommmmm,” she protested.

I would add dance recital to the list of events she had missed this year. Cousin’s birthday party, picture day, Thanksgiving. Hopefully this would be the last sickness until after the holidays.

“We can’t get the other kids sick, Mom?”

I nodded and made my way to the counter to peel another clementine. A burst of Vitamin C was my final attempt to combat her sniffles.

I sat down next to her and popped a clementine slice in my mouth. She understood by now what it meant to have a runny nose. No playing with friends. No activities.

She let out a cough and then, “Oops. I coughed.”

I laughed and squeezed her shoulders. “It’s okay.”

Gone were the days of sending kids to school with a packet of Kleenex.

“What if we put on our own recital? Mommy can teach you a dance and we can perform for Daddy and Ellie?”

She sat up tall in her booster seat and her smile grew. “Okay, mom. And my stuffies can dance too.”

She was only three and a half. There would be more recitals to sit in the front row at. I was clearly more upset than she was. She danced around in her seat, licking the juice off her hands. “I need another booger wiper, Mom.”

We set up a collection of bunnies, teddy bears and unicorns on the hardwood floor, all in shades of pink to match her leotard. She wore her tights and beige jazz shoes and I had braided her hair into a delicate plait that fell down the nape of her neck. We clipped a blue sparkly bow in her hair that she thought looked like a snowflake.

We played around with some of the moves I had seen her do in class. I am one of the masked mothers who presses my face to the two-way-mirror every Saturday to watch them practice. I am not ashamed.

Galloping, skipping, marching. We danced together around the room. We tried something I heard her teacher call “sprinkle hands.” We stretched our legs out in front of us and pointed our toes. We strung together a set of moves and had a pre-school jazz number ready to debut. We just needed to decide on the soundtrack.

The recital was a winter showcase and I imagined it would have been filled with holiday pop music. When I played the opening of “All I Want For Christmas,” by Mariah Carey, Hannah stopped dancing, got real serious and said, “This one, Mom.”

Daddy and Ellie joined us downstairs and sat on the couch with another set of stuffies that made up the audience. Daddy got out his phone, ready to document the impromptu performance and I positioned myself in the front of the room, out of the camera shot.

I pressed play and Hannah took her position, huddled on the floor. When the bells chimed in the opening of the song, Hannah stretched her arms high and did the best sprinkle hands I’ve ever seen. I’m not biased, I swear. She followed along with the moves, bouncing to the beat. She blew a kiss to her sister, just like we had rehearsed.

Then she focused her glance away from me. She was no longer mirroring my funky hips. She had moved on. She was twirling with one of the bunnies. She was leaping across the room. She was swaying to her own beat and seemed to forget about her back-up teacher, babbling sister, and Daddy, still holding the camera a few feet away from her face. She jumped onto the ottoman and wiggled about. She performed a solo that rivalled Mariah Carey’s at the Macy’s Parade.

When the song ended, she received a standing ovation from her family and stuffed animals. She joined in the clapping and said, “Again, again. I like dance recitals.”

And then she asked for another booger wiper.

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Brianne Sommerville

I write news releases and speeches by day, articles and stories by night.