For the record, this child was left behind when it came to school plays.
It was elementary school, sometime during the Richard Nixon era at the White House. It was a Thanksgiving play. Being class clown, or at least attempting to be, did not assure you the lead role in the play.
I watched as my classmates' names were called for speaking parts of Pilgrims and Indians. Perhaps they were saving me as the narrator. Nope. That role went to a guy that I was sure would be pulling the curtain cords during the change of sets. What was left?
And then it happened. My first true shot at performing in front of a live audience. "Kyle," the teacher said, "you and Stacy will be trees."
No particular tree, mind you, just one wrapped in brown paper with green construction paper on top and some cut pieces of gold paper strung together to resemble leaves.
My mother, who had raised three incredibly talented children, would be watching her fourth child in the school play as a tree? The ironic part was that I was asked to stand as still as possible while staring, face to face, with the other tree. The shame soon led to laughter, and the teacher said our giggling actually helped move our leaves as if a gust of wind had passed through the village.
They recently tore down the elementary school I had attended. I'm sure that somewhere, lost in the rubble, is a plaque commemorating my performance that November day. It would be a one-time performance as I never acted -- on stage -- again. Sometimes, you just have to know when it's better to burnout than to fade away.
I'm not sure what became of the other tree, but at a class reunion a few years back I saw Stacy briefly and I feel quite certain he also never made it to Broadway.
We've all seen the Christmas letters to Santa from elementary students, but I came across a teacher's list of things her young students said they were thankful for as Thanksgiving approached. Some of those included:
"I am thankful for my dog. He's dead now. But, I am thankful for him."
"I am thankful my mom borned me."
"I'm thankful to be in this world."
I am thankful for tissues."
"I am thankful for macaroni and cheese."
"I'm thankful for the zoo and the monkey bars... and the breakfast bars."
"I'm thankful for everything good and bad that has ever happened to me. The good makes the bad okay and the bad isn't really bad because there's so much good. So, maybe I'm really just thankful for the good since there isn't really any bad."
"I don't really know, but there is something stuck on my shoe."
Then there was the child who could not help but look ahead:
"I am thankful for Mr. Santa."
As for me, I am thankful to be surrounded by such great people at Areawide Media, live in such a beautiful area, and know that I don't have to perform in front of an audience while playing the role of a tree... ever again.