My counting may be off – I did make a chart to double-check my numbers – but I’m pretty sure that last night was the 15th, and next-to-last, Christmas program of our girls’ school lives. Every year since 2007 we’ve had at least one school program. 2013 was the sweetest spot in that stretch, with M performing in the St. P’s 3rd grade play, C in the first grade living nativity, and L in her St. S’s pre-K play. And there were a couple years in there when we had two girls in preschool, so they were both performing in different parts of the same program; I count those as a single event.

In that run we’ve had seven preschool programs. Three first grade living nativity plays. Three second grade classes singing in the third grade play. So far, two third grade plays. And now, just next year’s third grade play left.

Anyway, L sang with her class last night. They did a fine job, at least as far as I could tell. I thought the third graders did awesome, but I also have to grade them on a curve. St. P’s installed a new sound system this past year, so you could actually, clearly hear what all the kids were saying. There were years past where only the parents and families sitting near the stage could understand what the hell the actors were saying. All the corny jokes made it to the rows farthest back this year.

Some things about these programs never change. The rush to get there before all the good parking spots and seats are taken. The parents who roll in two minutes before the performance begins, looking harried as hell, and getting frustrated that they have to stand in the very back of the cafeteria to watch. The parents who have to work the entire crowd and are still standing, talking after the lights dim. Your non-performing kids pairing up with friends and disappearing out into the hallway or to a back corner of the room where they can chat. Folks trying to video their kids, leaning one way or the other to avoid all the cameras and phones that are raised up in front of them. And then the mad crush of hyper humanity in the lobby when the program ends.

It’s a good thing the kids have fun and the performances are always good for at least a laugh or two.

Now that chapter of our holiday season is complete. Another 4.5 days of school and Christmas vacation will be upon us.