Monkey frequently asks what things were line in the "olden days". To an eight-year old, the "olden days" is sometime between dinosaurs roaming the Earth and the time when I was a child.
Now that we are in the midst of the holiday season, her questions focus on what the holidays were like in the “olden days”. Holiday “olden days”, a time when inflatable Snowmen didn’t decorate the lawns of every house in the neighborhood. A time when Hanukkah wasn’t celebrated by lighting a menorah in a shopping mall, and Kwanza was not yet invented.
The arts community in Milwaukee gives us a chance to look back at the “olden days” through a variety of productions taking place this holiday season.
Perennial favorite, The Nutcracker, returns to the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. The Milwaukee Ballet’s presentation of this classic ballet takes us back in time to the Victorian Era where a child’s fantasies come to life. It shows us that in the “olden days” a child’s favorite toy was not Guitar Hero or an American Girl doll but rather just a simple wooden nutcracker.
For another look back at the past, The Milwaukee Rep’s production of A Christmas Carol at the historic Pabst Theatre takes us back to London in the 1800s. This story reminds us that in the “olden days” candles provided the necessary light, people walked down cobblestone streets, and not all homes had ovens to cook that holiday dinner. A Christmas Carol is a tale that reminds us of the true meaning of the holiday season. Whether it’s the 1800s or 2008, most important is caring for our family and friends.
Lastly, for a more modern look at the “olden days” (olden from an eight-year old’s perspective), look no further than John McGivern’s Winter Tales being performed at the Next Act Theatre. This one-man show delightfully transports us into the McGivern family dining room for Thanksgiving dinner and into his parents’ brick basement for a New Year’s Eve party. Our memories are jogged; we recall our own visits to Santa Claus at Capitol Court and paging through the Sears and JCPenney catalogues to pick out our wish list of toys.
Take in one, two, or all three of these shows, each in its own way a reflection of the “olden days”.
As you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza, take time to share holiday memories with your family. Teach your children and grandchildren about your family's holiday traditions. Traditions that for these youngest family members represent the "olden days".Monkey, Silverback Gorilla, and I wish you a very happy holiday season and a wonderful 2009.