And I can't think of a better reason to have a ball.
Prague is the only city I've lived in where we regularly get the chance to go to balls. Starting around Thanksgiving and running until Lent, Prague hosts a plethora of events that call for a tux and a taxi (ball gowns on the metro - very chilly). You can go to a ball to celebrate Thanksgiving or St. Patrick's Day, dance at charity balls put on by expat groups or try out the State Opera Ball just because. Dancing is not a prequisite, but getting dressed up pretty much is. Last year I was pregnant and we skipped the ball season. This year we decided that our ball of the year should be memorable, so we decided to go to Prague's Unofficial Inaugural Ball.
We donned gown and tuxedo, I strangled Will into his bow tie and we headed out the door, Caroline calling after us that she loved my outfit and could she have my shoes next? The ball was at a hotel famous for its funicular, and on the ride up the hill I looked out over snowy gardens and down into town and I wondered if this would be the best part - the gown tryouts with C and our sitter (complete with high heel practice), the spritz of scent and dash out the door, the contained elegance of a car ride in dress black, and finally this trip up the hill in a brightly lit box full of anticipation.
But then we arrived, and we met friends and more friends. A guitarist, Tony Ackerman, melded "America" with "We Shall Overcome" and "A Gift to Be Simple", and the music was just right. We watched President Obama's swearing in and heard speeches, live and taped, and we cheered and clapped. The room was full of excitement and I heard again and again how proud, just how proud everyone was to be experiencing this moment in history. It was a wonderful night, and I came home all bubbly with the fun of it all.
Tonight Caroline and I sat down at the computer and we listened to a short speech by Martin Luther King and we saw again President Obama's swearing in. She was more interested in his two little girls and their outfits than in the ceremony. She asked if the little girls were princesses now. We watched a little bit longer, then it was time for bedtime, new era or not. And I wondered - years from now, what from yesterday and today, balls and videos and pictures of little girls dressed in warm colors, what will we remember?
A few years ago I vowed to start enjoying the winter and learn a winter sport. I bought a pair of skates and took up ice skating. Caroline joined me the next year, and this year Will decided he'd watched long enough and he bought skates too.
We used to stick to indoor rinks, but January's unusually snowy weather turned Prague into a wintery wonderland and tempted us into trying something new. Last Saturday we met up with friends to skate on a fish pond in the Liboc neighborhood of Prague. Even the baby enjoyed getting into the act, as you can see from his picture!
Tram speeding by; C in bobble hat; C hands out change to our first trio of kings; kings stand, robed and ready, at metro stairs; a smaller set of kings; crutches cast a shadow; trees crooked against the sky.
One of my favorite holiday pictures - C dressed in her Christmas finery plays with her puppet theater for the first time (thanks Ellen!).
Since that first act, she has expanded her repertoire from Little Red Riding Hood to some of her favorite books and characters. Who knew Jemima Puddle Duck could be set to marionettes? And when Misty of Chincoteague met the Princess Elzebeta it was a touching moment indeed.
We live in the land of marionettes, so I'm looking forward to expanding the cast and we're drawing up more backdrops too (mountain scenary just doesn't give the right salt marsh feel to Misty's performances and we'll definitely need an island scene for any pirate skits!).
If I'm not working or hanging out with our 10 year old while a bouncy 5 year old dances around us, there's a good chance I'll be hammering away on our piano, reading a book or trying to sketch. I live in Prague, Czech Republic and hail from the U.S. South.