My mother was a ballerina. It’s true! The woman could contort herself into all sorts of impossible positions at the drop of a hat. It’s unfortunate her talents chose to skip a generation because neither my brother nor I possessed the Gift of Dance. I believed I’d performed so badly in ballet class that it was suggested that perhaps an art class, where I would do less damage onto myself as well as others, should be in order. Nevertheless, it didn’t deter me from attending various ballet performances once the opportunities presented itself.

My first ballet was of course, “The Nutcracker.” Visions of sugarplum and dancing snowflakes consumed most of my childhood Christmas memories. That, and copious amounts of rum cakes.

Have you read the original version of “The Nutcracker and the King of Mice” by E.T.A. Hoffman? I happened to have a what could only be described as “sarcastically illustrated” version of this book. It pretty much distorted my vision of this beloved Christmas tale. A multi-headed rat? A Nutcracker looking as though it’s suffering from a severe case of lockjaw? Marie, the heroine, dying in bed from a fever? Merry Christmas and Have a Happy Nightmare to you too!