Two weeks ago, I attended closing night of White Christmas at my niece’s high school. I went to support my niece in her work as the sound designer. The bonus is that White Christmas is one of my favorite movies. I was excited to see how it was adapted for the stage and I was not disappointed. In fact, I was mesmerized and awed. I sat for close to three hours watching high school students become WWII veterans and lounge singers and farmers.
If you have ever seen White Christmas, you know that it is what might be called “cheesy” these days. I don’t disagree with that assessment. But these kids were taking it so seriously. They weren’t playing Bob Wallace and Phil Davis ironically. They inhabited those personas completely. I watched 40 kids tap dance their hearts out on that stage. It wasn’t some joke to them. These kids didn’t have previous tap dance experience; they spent the summer learning how to tap just for this show. Their hard work paid off, and the audience responded with enthusiastic cheering and applause.
I’ve been thinking about those kids as I have attended other performances leading up to Christmas. I’ve seen elementary students in a choir, middle school band, high school band, youth choir and others. Each time, I’ve been impressed by the earnestness these young people embody. Young people often get labeled as lazy or having cynical attitudes. That is not what I have seen. These young performers put their hearts and souls into all their performances. And that carries over into other parts of their lives.
My wish for all of us as we enter into the new year is that we all adopt the same attitude of earnestness. What can we embrace and love unironically? Where is God calling us to throw our whole selves into something? Where have we been holding back? Let’s go with gusto into the new year. Or, as they say in the theater, “Once more, with feeling!”