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1st graders brighten season with song
Kendall Sellers and Caitlin Cardamore prepare before going on stage Thursday night during Golden West’s first-grade Christmas recital. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
Hoping to catch the true embodiment of the holiday spirit in person?

If you weren’t at the Golden West multipurpose room Thursday night to watch 60-plus first graders belt out their renditions of timeless Christmas carols, I’m afraid you missed your chance.

While parents waited anxiously inside of the gym for the school’s two first-grade classes to arrive, teachers Teri Poulos and Marie Frietas patiently lined up their respective students and prepared them for the short walk over to the stage.

While it might have been a gym to those watching from the seats, it might as well have been Carnegie Hall for the students as they marched and hummed the tunes they had been rehearsing  for days – nervously fidgeting with their construction-paper Rudolph hats, their kazoo and their maracas.

There was laughter. There were cheers. There was the overwhelming sense of innocence and true whimsy. And that was all before they actually started singing.

The essence of Thursday’s performance could be seen on young Caitlin Cardamore’s face while she chatted with friends before making her way over to the stage. While she was no doubt shy about standing in front of a room full of people she didn’t know, you could hardly tell from her upbeat demeanor and exuberant attitude as show time neared closer.

All it took is a glance at Liam McClish – with his dress-shirt un-tucked and his tie swinging back and forth as he jostled in line with the other anxious singers – to see the purity that the holiday season is supposed to represent.

It didn’t matter whether the songs were going to be sung in chorus, or whether somebody was going to stray off-key. It didn’t even matter if they missed an entire verse of the song. Collectively, the first grade students at Golden West elementary captivated the audience for 20 minutes Thursday night, and reminded everyone within earshot of what it was like to be a kid.

The only thing missing from the entire performance was the crackling of a freshly lit fire, and maybe the piney smell of a Christmas tree that was just erected. It probably would have hurt to have had the smell of hot chocolate wafting through the air like it does when heated up in the kitchen.

But placing those expectations on the event Thursday night almost seems counter-productive, for the stripped down version of the carols sung by the youth of today – in its most simplistic form – surpassed all of the additional baggage and expectations we place on Christmas.

For 20 minutes Thursday night more than 60 kids got a chance to be themselves in front of their parents, their classmates and anybody else who decided to show up to watch.

It was the angelic voices of students like Victoria Nevarez and Isaac Herrera that helped transport us back to a simpler time, and remind us of the holiday mindset that disappeared so long ago.

And even if it was for only 20 minutes, it was nice to have to that back.