Updated: Feb 26, 2020
Hello and Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful and uplifting holiday break. Here at the Wardrobe, we took a two-week hiatus to enjoy time with our family, be present in the moment, and allow our minds and creativity to recharge for the new year. I hope that your break served as a great reset for you all, as well.
Although for many of you, the holiday season may be over, for others, the festivities are still in full swing. In Puerto Rico, today is Three King’s Day, also known as The Feast of the Epiphany. It is a day that honors the three wise men who followed the Star of Bethlehem to discover a king in a manger and a promise realized.
In Puerto Rico, the children put grass in shoe boxes and place them under their beds. The grass is for the camels, and in exchange, the three kings leave the children gifts under their beds. Growing up in my beautiful state of North Carolina, school was normally back in session by the 6th, but my parents still continued the tradition at home. We would grab grass from the front yard and leave it under our beds, and the next morning, my sister and I would wake up to presents. Sometimes it was a rather torturous event because we would have to get through an entire day of school before we could go home and enjoy the gift we received, but it was always special to partake in a tradition, even if no one else around us understood it.
In Anasco, Puerto Rico, a small town on the Western side of the island where my mother grew up, the Three Kings Day tradition actually begins the night before, on the 5th. For decades, three men have dressed up in regal garb and ridden their horses through the town, a promise that began many years ago and is lovingly fulfilled year after year. Children anxiously await for the arrival of the kings, and families run out into the streets to get photos and hug the beloved symbols of a faith that began long before any of us existed.
Thinking about this day has gotten me thinking about the importance of tradition. Christmas is a time for tradition. Part of what makes the holiday season so special are the customs that are carried on year after year. Some traditions have been passed down for generations, and some traditions are newer, younger ones that have been created in hopes that future generations will continue them as well.
When I was seven years old, my parents took me to The Nutcracker for the first time. My mom had always loved the ballet, and she desperately wanted to introduce me to the wondrous Christmas show. That year, my dad granted her wish and took us both to see the performance at the Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. My mom and I fell in love with the music, the colors, the costumes, and the magic of it all. 25 years later, it is a tradition that we carry on. Every year, we go together to see it, and every year, it doesn’t feel like Christmas until I’ve visited the magical Land of Sweets.
This year’s show was extra special for a couple of reasons. First, we had the pleasure of introducing the show to another very special mother-daughter duo. Second, it was principal ballerina, Lara O'Brien’s final performance after an impressive 30-year career in ballet, and a 19-year career with Carolina Ballet. She is an exquisite dancer and has always been one of my favorites to look out for. Fans of the Carolina Ballet are sorry to see her retire, but we are grateful for the contribution she has made to the RTP arts scene. Her final bow will be on April 19th when she takes the stage for CB’s Macbeth. I don’t plan on missing it, and neither should you!
While The Nutcracker is a longstanding tradition that I’ve carried with my mom, my dad’s newfound health has brought about some new traditions, as well. My dad is a huge fan of Motown music, so when my sister noticed a flyer for A Motown Christmas during one of her early morning jaunts to downtown Raleigh’s Morning Times, she immediately jumped on the opportunity to introduce a new Christmas experience to the family. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend, but my parents and my sister were blown away by the show.
Motown Christmas was hosted at the Cary Arts Center in downtown Cary, right across the street from the beautiful, brand new public library. I was told that it was an incredibly wholesome show filled with great music, both Christmas and secular, an enthusiastic audience, and a special moment dedicated to honoring our soldiers. My family left the show feeling joyful and uplifted. It brought them a sense of nostalgia, but also a sense of promise for the future.
A few days later, my family traveled to Charlotte to celebrate New Year’s Eve at the Ritz, a place that feels like a second home for us. The Ritz Carlton in Charlotte is where my husband and I celebrated our wedding reception. During the years that followed, my parents would stay there when they visited us, and we spent many Friday and Saturday nights in the Ritz lobby enjoying their live jazz music over French press and Bar Cocoa macarons. When my dad started to grow sick, the staff went above and beyond to keep him comfortable and accommodate him. As the years went by, they witnessed his decline and began calling him personally to check on him. The familiar staff members went from acquaintances to friends, and the Ritz went from a venue to a home.
One can imagine their dismay and their elation upon my dad’s healthy return to the hotel. It was the first time that any of them had seen him walk without assistance in five years. It was the first NYE in five years that he was able to put his dancing shoes to use. It was the first time in five years that I was able to dance with my father to our special song, the Motown classic, “My Girl”.
Through my dad’s illness, my family never stopped the tradition of spending New Year’s Eve together, and it was through the agony of watching him wither away that I truly learned the importance of maintaining traditions. Traditions bring comfort to our lives. It’s something we can count on, something we can rely on, something we can hold onto even when everything else around us seems to be changing too fast or falling apart. My dad always told me that life is a string of memories, and that providing experiences for the ones you love create little moments that form that string of memories which will remain with them for a lifetime.
With the turning of a new year, I, like everyone else, find myself reflecting on the year behind me, which in turn forces me to ponder and plan for the year ahead of me. 2019 was a whirlwind of a year for me. 2019 was the year I almost lost my father, but it was also the year that I witnessed a miracle in his recovery. It was the year where I realized that change is inevitable, but it was also the year where the greatest aspects of my life returned to normalcy. 2019 was also the year my sister and I finally launched Lost in the Wardrobe <3.
As we enter a new year and a new decade, I challenge you to take that risk, to start that business, to get that degree, to chase that dream. I challenge you to be present in the moment, to disconnect from phones and social media and savor the moments with the ones you love. If this past decade has taught me anything, it is that nothing is guaranteed. This life is a gift, and if you’re lucky enough to be near the people you love, don’t waste a second taking that for granted. Don’t let anger consume you or resentment corrode your soul. If you’re unhappy with something, change it. If you failed at something, try again. If you messed something up, fix it. If you are lucky enough to have love, in any way, shape, or form, in your life, love it back. Make this new year, and this new decade, about gratitude. And remember, life is a series of memories, so live in the moment, create traditions, and revel in the experiences. Your life is a gift. Make the most of it.
Cheers to all of you, our beloved readers, and Cheers to 2020, old sport!