Son of a Nutcracker


D.J. Neeley | Civil Patriot

If there’s one good thing that’s come out of Christmas 2020, it’s that I didn’t have to sit through my niece’s annual production of The Nutcracker. Every year we venture out to the civic center to see her ballet company’s production of the timeless classic, but, in my humble opinion, it’s about as much fun as watching paint dry. 

This year, thanks to COVID-19, the production was canceled. (And they said nothing good could come of this virus!) My kids were sad but I felt like sending the ballet director a thank you card. Pretending to enjoy something you secretly loathe takes a lot out of a person, after all. More than I have to give this particular Christmas, for sure. 

Besides, I’ve never really understood the story, if I’m being totally honest. A nutcracker comes to life and saves the world from a mouse? Is that it? And all of the little children ultimately look up to him because of his saving abilities? Is that how it goes? 

I have so many questions about the logistics of this. Also, I want to know who looked at a nutcracker sitting on the kitchen table and said, “I’d like to turn you into a hero in a story guaranteed to leave folks scratching their heads for centuries to come.” Who thinks like that? 

Then again, I suppose anything—or anyone—can be turned into a hero if they just have the right press. Any politician, with enough backing and media coverage, can be made to look like a star, even if he’s actually just a nutcracker. He can be propped up, talked up, puffed up, and convinced he’s the real deal. And with the help of Big Tech, the general public can be convinced, too. They’ll believe he’s greater than all of the presidential candidates who’ve ever come before him, if his press is to be believed. 

But you and I both know he’s only a nutcracker. 

And when you grow up in the home with a nutcracker for a parent, you’re bound to turn out a little, well. . .cracked. 

I’m not naming names, of course. Just saying. 

Speaking of nutcrackers, did you realize the spring-jointed version was invented by a man named Henry Quackenbush in 1913? (How’s that for a heroic name?) He really was a hero because he actually invented something that made our lives a little easier. No one had to look at him and say, “Quackenbush, you’re overrated.” He really was as big as his name implied. 

Some people are bigger than life. You look at their track records and see how they managed to climb to the top of the pack, because they’ve got the goods. They’re savvy. Tough. Stronger than most. And others simply fall short in comparison. 

Still not naming names. 

But, seriously. . .some heroes simply aren’t. At least, they aren’t to me. If a hero’s going to sweep me away, he’s got to fly into action and scale buildings, leaping from rooftop to rooftop like a Ninja. He’s not stumble-bumbling his way from basement to podium with reporters offering pats on the back, soft-ball questions, and gentle words. And he’s not continually sweeping up the crumbs from around his son’s messes. 

And—you guessed it—I’m still not naming names. 

“To be heroic may mean nothing more than this then, to stand in the face of the status quo, in the face of an easy collapse into the madness of an increasingly chaotic world and represent another way.”
– Mike Alsford




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