Looking out at a sea of familiar faces and realizing you belong

Today was the day of my younger son's holiday show and the day he'd take his spot up on stage in front of the crowd. I knew it would be a big day for our whole family, but not for just the reasons I originally suspected.

Before my husband and I even stepped into the auditorium, we were greeted by fellow parents filing in to see their children take their well-deserved place in the spotlight. As we walked through the doors, we kept smiling, waving and talking with other parents. From our spot at the back of the auditorium, we could see most of the crowd and we were amazed at how many people we recognized and who we readily call our friends.

We saw two sets of parents who just joined our sons' school this fall and who we welcomed as their host families. We saw a couple whose daughters were the only children our sons knew when they started at their school, thanks to riding the same summer camp bus together. We saw our friends who recently had a baby. We saw several parents who volunteered with us for this year's Fall French Market. We saw our neighbors who happily showed us the ropes in our new neighborhood. And the list goes on...

Finding our way and place in a new community

While I'm sure this same scenario is repeated at many other schools during many other holiday shows this week, it's especially significant to us because our sons were the new kids at school just last fall.

My husband and I remember the feeling of looking out into the audience of last year's holiday show, and only recognizing a small number of faces and knowing a small percentage of their names. I'm a firm believer that you get out as much as what you put into something. Today, I felt like we had invested our time and effort into a community for our children and ourselves. And, it was so worth it.

While our seats at the back of the auditorium made it difficult to capture the best photos, it gave us a unique vantage point. It allowed me to sit back and think through what we've done together as a family to truly feel like we belong at the school and in its dynamic, diverse community.

As a new family, we tried to get involved, make friends and embrace the community. It's just been one year. But, I know it will be the start of something bigger that will benefit our family in many ways for many years to come.

The ideal harmony of children and adults coming together

When it came time for our younger son's class to perform, I was especially moved by how each child came together in one voice, in one rhythm, and even in one harmony.

My younger son's classmates come from different backgrounds, were born in different countries, have different native languages, and exhibit entirely different personalities. But, even at a young age, they've accepted each other, grown together, worked together, and excelled together - as they did up on stage this morning.

I know both of my sons worked hard to learn the rhythm of their new school, master a new language, make new friends, and find their own place in a new community. I'm proud of what they've done in just one year. And, I'd like to think they'd be proud of what my husband and I have done, too.

The end of a great performance and the start of more to come

There is nothing like looking out at a sea of faces and recognizing them all - and feeling like you've made a place and even a home there. I felt that emotion from my seat at the back of the auditorium and I hope my younger son felt that same way from up on stage today.

That is why I clapped a little louder, smiled a little wider, and even started to dream a little bigger. It was a morning to remember, and hopefully the start of more good things to come.

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