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Chapter 11 of Days of A Christmas Carol Past, My Thirty Year Relationship With Victorian Ghosts

Carol on the shelf

By Rebecca MortonPublished 5 months ago Updated 29 days ago 4 min read
Chapter 11 of Days of A Christmas Carol Past, My Thirty Year Relationship With Victorian Ghosts
Photo by Nik on Unsplash

My first baby was born just a few months after a staged reading of my third place winning play and from that day on, my attention was completely focused on her. At the time I felt I had no choice. As a newborn, she was intense.

At the hospital, a day or two after her birth, it seemed she had been crying and screaming most of the time. And angry. She actually looked and sounded angry.

She wouldn’t stop screaming until we turned her around so she could look out at the world. She didn’t want to miss a thing. When she could walk, she would follow me all over the house and bring me books to read to her. “Readreadread!” she would shout at me, once she could talk, and she would hold a chubby board book out to me.

She could sing “Tinkle Tinkle Ittle Sar” before she was two years old. She wanted me to sing with her and watch her dance. She wanted me to pretend I was everything from Captain Hook to Kermit the Frog to Mr. Edwards from Little House on the Prairie. I was exhausted. Charles Dickens novels or plays adapted from them were the last things on my mind for the next five years.

My daughter wanted to learn to dance ballet and tap by the time she was four. She had watched the Disney version of Annie on TV. At her first ballet class, she sang “Tomorrow” at full belt, sitting on the waiting room bench as I put ballet slippers on her tiny wiggling feet.

Then came the Christmas pageants at our church and at preschool, which she loved to do. I knew she would, because she used to order her dad and me to sit on the couch and watch her perform in pretend shows. She also had a Nativity scene she liked to play with, making the figurines act out the Christmas story.

Then there were dance recitals and children’s choir concerts and then, one day when she was napping on the living room couch, I came across an ad in our local newspaper. A nearby community theater was holding auditions for children for the cast of Annie. Maybe one day I’ll write about that experience, but for now, I’ll just say SHE GOT THE ROLE OF MOLLY, THE LITTLEST ORPHAN!

I really did NOT want to be a stage mom. You know, one of those pathetic women who try to live out their thwarted dreams through their children? But as long as she wanted to do a show and crushed it at the audition, why not? I didn’t tell her until many years later that way back when my family first moved to New Jersey, when I was ten, I had hoped to audition for Annie on Broadway.

That never happened, but it didn’t matter anymore because my daughter got to do the show, and still talks about what fun it was now that she is in her twenties. Not quite a year after Annie, my daughter played Amaryllis in the local high school production of The Music Man. She was seven.

This time, the pressure was greater for her than it was in Annie. As “Molly”, she shared her role with another little girl, alternating performances. Now, as the only “Amaryllis”, it was all up to her. On the last day of performances, as I was creating her ringlets with a curling iron per director’s orders, she began to cry, saying, “I can’t do this anymore!"

“It’s only one more show, Sweetie,” I replied. Yuck! I did not want to be THAT mom. When she told me, after the show closed, that she wanted to have her hair cut short and play tee ball that spring, I thought she was a very smart girl. She needed a change of pace. She had already attended a baseball day camp for a week and played soccer for two years, so it was goodbye showbiz!

And then one evening the following September, my daughter was sitting on the living room couch, reading a book. I was sitting on the other end, reading the local newspaper. A local community theater was holding auditions for children for the cast of a show that would open that December, after Thanksgiving and before Christmas.

It was a new, original adaptation of a novella by Charles Dickens. I had told her about my dad’s adaptation of the same story, and that he directed me twice in it. She enjoyed hearing me read the book about an old miser in Victorian London who is visited by spirits to help him learn about the Christmas spirit and care about the people in his world, one of whom is his clerk’s tiny son who walks using a crutch.

Just as Scrooge had long forgotten the magic of Christmas, I had long lost touch with a story that seemed to follow me around for decades until I had my first baby. Now, thirty years after I first appeared on the stage in A Christmas Carol, I would soon be in a theater again, surrounded by actors playing Ebenezer Scrooge, Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim, now portrayed by my daughter (as well as another little girl — shared roles again). It was one more dance with A Christmas Carol for me, this time as a backstage mom.


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About the Creator

Rebecca Morton

An older Gen X-er, my childhood was surrounded by theatre people. My adulthood has been surrounded by children, first my students, then my own, and now more students! You can also find me on Medium here:

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  • Daphsam5 months ago

    Thank you for sharing.

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