How I Spent my Summer Vacation

7 Aug

To my fellow-bloggers: I hope this post explains my absence from your comments lately.   I’m looking forward to school starting in two weeks and more time for real life.

To all my faithful readers: I hope this inspires you to jump into your local community theater…because it’s worth it.

I have been asked several times over the past two and a half months, whether being in a production like The Music Man is worth my time and energy. Is it worth essentially giving up a summer? Is it worth the lost sleep, energy, and time?

The answer, without a doubt, is “yes”.

Yes, it’s like having an unpaid job. Yes, it drains you. Yes, it requires more brain power than I sometimes have at my disposal.

But it’s worth it.

It’s worth it because I get to see my husband shine on stage. I get to listen to people’s comments in the receiving line after the show and I can’t help but grin. I get to see him, hear him, watch him be Harold Hill. And, in real life, I’m his Marian.

Sadly, “Mrs. Squires” doesn’t get to kiss “Harold Hill” in the musical…so I took advantage of a moment in the wings.

It’s worth it because I get to see our three kids blossom. I get to hear compliments from our director, and see them grow and mature. What more can a mom ask for?

Yes, it’s worth it.

I know that time is a precious commodity. One of the most valuable around. It’s easy to quantify time: you simply add up the minutes and find a total. Even I, a mathematical dunce, can do that math. It is far less easy, of course, to quantify quality time, to determine, without question, whether the time you spent was worthwhile…or wasted, was well-spent…or lost moments of your life you’ll never get back again.

I am compelled to tell you today that the time I spent this summer rehearsing, thinking about, and performing in The Music Man has been, unequivocally, time that I not only will get back again – in memories and smiles and nostalgia – but also time that I am delighted to have spent.

Yes, I have had my doubts. When I’m crabby and grumpy and the production seems to be controlling my life. When the “trouble with a capital ‘T’” seems all too apropos. But then we’ll be driving into town with the family and someone says something and suddenly we’re singing “Wells Fargo Wagon” at the top of our lungs and we can’t stop laughing. And then along comes dress rehearsal week and we see everything come together and suddenly we’re in this living, thriving thing that we helped create…and it’s vibrant and funny and thrilling!

Yes, it is exhausting. I am sleeping too long in the morning, and going to bed too late at night. I have bags under my eyes and my hair is all weird from the vast amounts of hairspray I’m using. My kids are tired, too, and I don’t know how on earth they’re going to be back on the right schedules by the time school begins in two weeks.


The whole family!

It’s worth it because my whole family is together, every night, having fun at the auditorium. It’s worth it because we’re working on a project, perfecting it, experiencing it, making it happen together. We’re making friends, deepening relationships, learning, expanding our horizons, getting out of our “box” together.

Our kids are getting to know other kids, but they’re also getting to know teenagers and adults who are kind to them, helpful to them, encouraging to them. They’re getting to see their dad goof around, work hard, and excel. They’re getting to see cast-mates mess up and learning that it’s okay to not be perfect. They’re learning to look out for each other but not to be bossy.

They’re learning to work together – sometimes with people vastly different from themselves – and to do so with dignity and respect.

They’re learning, I hope, to love a little more, listen a little closer, be patient a little longer.

Yes. It’s worth it. A million times over.

So, if you’re anywhere in the vicinity of Southwest Minnesota, please, come to see The Music Man at the Memorial Auditorium this coming Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Support family-friendly events like this in our community by attending. And THANK YOU so much to those businesses and individuals who have supported the production with your generous donations.

And please, think about participating in such an event in the future with your family.

Because, in spite of everything, it’s worth it.


14 Responses to “How I Spent my Summer Vacation”

  1. Kari Bukowski August 7, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    You all look wonderful, and how awesome to be able to do this together as a family. More years ago than I care to count I was a “Pick a Little” lady, part of the entourage of the mayor’s wife and loved hamming it up a bit as we traveled back and forth across the stage as a “posse.” I must admit I also loved being a Grecian urn! What a great show for community theater, too, as it is so timeless. Good for you! 🙂

    • Gretchen O'Donnell August 7, 2012 at 9:49 am #

      Thanks, Kari! Yes, it’s great fun being a Grecian Urn lady, isn’t it – and yes, we’ve called ourselves a “posse” too! So fun – lots of silliness and very few lines to say! Perfect. It’s fun making people laugh. Yes,, it’s a great show for the whole family – and I’m excited for the kids to have this opportunity!

  2. rutheh August 7, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    What wonderful memories you have created for a lifetime! Looks like a lot of fun. You will be humming those tunes forever and so will the children. All of you radiate happiness.
    I can’t think of anything better. I think when it is over, you will miss it! How lovely to do something together as a family. Just seeing your photo makes me smile, too.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell August 7, 2012 at 10:59 am #

      Thanks, Ruth! Yes, the songs will be in our heads and hearts! It’s definitely a commitment of time and energy that means other things won’t get done, but it’s all worth it! I’m so glad we’re all having fun!

  3. Jenny August 7, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    I love the pictures! Thank you for letting us catch a glimpse of what all your hard work has gone into. The costumes have got to be kind of fun to wear! And to see you with make-up on! Wow!!! Are you getting used to The Sailboat King without a beard? Is it going to stay gone for a while or grown back right away?

    • Gretchen O'Donnell August 7, 2012 at 11:01 am #

      Hee hee! It’s coming back asap, he says! But he did say that he might keep it shorter than he used to! I know – the make-up thing – goodness! I’m so not a fan. The costumes are fun, indeed – but the Grecian Urn one is a pain to get into properly! Wish you could see it!

  4. whatimeant2say August 7, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    I think this is seriously one of the coolest ways that a family could spend the summer! I am so jealous!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell August 7, 2012 at 8:25 pm #

      You know, there are things I really dislike about living in a small town. BUT…there are also things I really enjoy. I’m sure that big towns have a lot more opportunities like this…but they also have a lot more competition! It’s really been great and I’m not sure what we’ll do with our time when it’s over! But school begins in less than two weeks…so that will be something, I guess. Can’t believe how fast this summer has gone…

  5. hotlyspiced August 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    The costumes and make-up all look great. If I could, I’d be there to support you and your family and to enjoy what looks like an amazing show. Congrats on all your hard work and effort and I would agree, it all looks like it’s so worth it. I used to direct a Christmas production that had a cast of 120. Our family was all involved and we had a great time and we have so many incredible memories from our experience xx

    • Gretchen O'Donnell August 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm #

      Directing is a TOUGH job – wow, that’s amazing you were willing to do that with so many people! Good job!! Yes, it does give great memories, doesn’t it? I’m thinking that our church needs to up their Christmas program game…plus, I love the intergenerational aspect of things like this – so great. It’s just such a neat thing to be involved in…

  6. Kimberly August 8, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Gretchen, thank you for once again opening up a new aspect of life. Doing this production has brought your family closer and created memories for a lifetime. It’s also imparted those hard to come by lessons of hard work and perseverance-all to a great soundtrack! Thank you, too, for singing the praises of the often overlooked community theatre. They are a treasure to behold. Enjoy the rest of your summer and I look forward to reading many more posts of your epiphanies.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell August 9, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

      Yes…perseverance! Good point. It’s a great lesson in working hard, not giving up and then seeing something come at the end of it. And yes, we’re so glad for the opportunity to do the theater stuff – our town needs this!!

  7. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen August 12, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    I couldn’t think of a better way to bond as a family! I loved seeing your photos and the grins on your faces says it all. What an experience, you were all very lucky to have been a part of this! xx

    • Gretchen O'Donnell August 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

      It was great, Barbara, you’re right! Today we’re all rather tired and a little sad. Perhaps now, however, life will return to normal…whatever that is! It’s been great…hard to return to reality.

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