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Archive for November, 2015

SarahRose Nutcracker nightgown Clara 2013

SarahRose as Clara for the Colorado Youth Ballet’s 2013 Nutcracker at the Pikes Peak Center Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography

Holiday traditions have been a source of joy in our family for over 35 years. Some carefully crafted, others evolving over time, but all seeming to add delight and happiness to the season. Nutcracker performances will be attended, cookies baked, ornaments handcrafted, candles lit and devotions read by the advent log… actually, there have been almost too many traditions in our household to list. But one thing was sure, the Colorado Lorrig family (usually including 20+ extended family members and friends) would gather at our little red log cabin in Black Forest for Christmas.

But on June 11, 2013, ‘Whispering Pines’ our home of twenty-seven years vanished in the Black Forest Fire. We were fortunate to be able to gather the children, pets, some photos, computers, and important documents before we evacuated ahead of the flames. We gathered at the Comfort Inn in the north part of Colorado Springs, which also happened to be the headquarters for the firefighters who had come from all across the country to help battle that ferocious and consuming blaze.

After the official word arrived that our home was among those listed as a total loss with nearly 500 others, our youngest child, SarahRose, was understandably distraught. This young carefree bundle of life and energy, whose grandfather had often teased by commenting as she waltzed through the room, “Someone should really teach that girl to walk,” was overwhelmed with grief and seemed nearly paralyzed. Her cheeks were still wet with the relentless deluge of tears which had followed the great waves of breathless heaves which seemed to engulf her twelve year old frame and steal her voice. She finally managed to whisper, “I’ll never dance again.”

Lorrig House adjusted 2011

Little red cabin in the woods

In the midst of the sorrow and in spite of summer month, all of a sudden, Christmas came to her mind. “This will be the worst Christmas ever!” she exclaimed. The idea of celebrating Christmas anywhere else seemed – impossible – and improbable as well. Many of her family, friends, and neighbors had lost their homes in the fire too. Including her grandparents who had built and lived in the house next door. She knew that Christmas would not be at Grandma’s house or at any of her Aunt’s and Uncle’s who were also evacuated because of the fire. Yes, the rest of the world might celebrate Christmas this year, but it seemed that there would be no joy in this holiday season for SarahRose.

In the following days we navigated insurance agencies, looking for someplace to live, and dealing with family issues as best as possible, I encouraged SarahRose to attend her regularly scheduled summer dance programs at Ballet Society of Colorado Springs. “It will do you good to focus on something else,” I told her. But she was reluctant. “Maybe it will help,” I said. Expectations were low, emotions were volatile, and stress levels high. We knew moving forward was our best option but, we were unsure of what ‘moving forward’ meant. However, it did seem logical that spending all day with her friends doing what she had always loved, would be the best first step in the right direction.
By the time her summer programs were over and the fall semester began, she was excited to be dancing again. There had been days and times when grief was overwhelming and the tears came at awkward moments, but there were also flashes of comfort, hope and slowly peeking its way back into her life, joy seemed to be just around the bend.

Stockings hung by the chimney with care...

Stockings were hung by the chimney with care…

Nutcracker was on the horizon and as a family with three dancing girls, this is a greatly anticipated season. Our girls have been toy mice, soldiers, toy dolls, sugar babes, party girls, sugarplums, garland girls, angels, marzipan, flower, and probably some parts we can’t even remember. Yes, The Nutcracker is a huge part of our family’s traditional holiday celebration. And one of the few traditions which could be recreated by our family that year.

By now, although we were renting a lovely house in town, there was no chimney to hang stockings on, and our homemade stockings with the children’s names carefully embroidered on the satin topped edge had literally gone up in smoke. Although a friend made us a new advent log, we had no mantel on which to place it. So many traditions were changing for us, whether we wanted them to or not. Feeling a bit apprehensive, SarahRose decided she would dance only in the Colorado Youth Ballet‘s Nutcracker that year. It’s sometimes fun to be part of two or three Nutcracker productions in the same year, but this year she thought it best to attempt to manage her time and stress levels.

In September the chatter around the studio was all about Nutcracker casting. Everyone wanted to know what parts they’d be cast in and what everyone’s roles would be. A few people had commented to SarahRose, “I bet you’ll be Clara this year.” or “I hope you get to be Clara this year.” She thought they were all being especially kind and encouraging because she was still recovering from the fire. Although she received their words as compliments, she didn’t anticipate being cast in that leading role. The year before she had auditioned in the age/height group in which the Clara’s are usually chosen from and hadn’t been selected. This year, she figured she would have been too tall for the part.

But by way of taking a tragically anticipated holiday and turning it into the best Christmas ever, SarahRose was cast in the coveted role of Clara for the Colorado Youth Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker which took place at the Pikes Peak Center in downtown Colorado Springs. Tears had turned to laughter, and mourning into the oil of joy for this little girl who had experienced such tremendous highs and lows in recent months.

SarahRose Clara Nutcracker performance pic 2013

SarahRose on stage in The Nutcracker at the Pikes Peak Center Photo by: Ted Mehl of A Better Image Photography

This year, two Christmases later, SarahRose will spend her first Christmas in her new home back in Black Forest. Her little part of the forest is without trees and although the rebuild is on the same lot, everything is much different from the day she left the cozy little cabin in the woods in a fire evacuation. She’s learned that life is filled with ups and downs. Change is inevitable and difficult, but sometimes good.

The production this year will feature her in Winter and Italian numbers, which she is very excited about, but she will always remember with a smile the year she was Clara-in THE NUTCRACKER!

You can see SarahRose and her friends from Ballet Society and the Colorado Youth Ballet in The Nutcracker this holiday season at the Pikes Peak Center in downtown Colorado Springs on Monday, December 21 at 7pm and Tuesday, December 22, at 4pm and 7pm.

Click the link on the performance times above to purchase Nutcracker tickets online.

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