Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Some Holiday Uplift

Any choral music geeks out there in Chump Nation?

It’s Sunday night and I just got back from a performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. to hear Candlelight Christmas by the Washington Chorus. It’s our second year attending, and maybe I’m all goopy from the Handel’s Messiah singalong (AND HE WILL REIGN FOREVER! AND EVER!), but I wanted to make an off-topic shout out to the arts.

Somewhere out there is someone sitting on a cold metal folding chair listening to the warbling of grade schoolers at a holiday concert. And it’s interminable. And off-key. And like every school assembly, it seems to go on forever. Maybe it’s your first holiday season alone. Maybe your ex is there. Maybe they’re not and your child is scanning the audience finding an empty chair where their other parent should be.

My point is this — clap harder. Show up. Love every creative amateur expression your child puts out in this world. Support them. Bake the goddamn cookies for the bake sale even after a long day of work, and 6,000 other things that need doing. Support the arts even when your school tax doesn’t pass, and the choir is cut to an elective on the second Wednesday of every other equinox.  Because this is important.

Maybe your kid will be enriched by the arts. Maybe they won’t. But maybe another kid heard your clapping and tried harder, and kept at it. Maybe YOU are the supportive clapping parent they don’t have. And it was worth showing up to this uncomfortable, too-long school event. Your presence said: “You are important and worthy of my attention.”

These were my thoughts this evening as I listened to the Eleanor Roosevelt High School choir of Greenbelt, Maryland perform. A public high school choir with such gifted young people — music geeks — lanky young men, earnest, well-coifed young women knocking the socks off the audience. And their dedicated teacher. You could tell these kids spent a lot of time, and untold parent hours, getting to this place of excellence.

Those kids were the most inspiring thing I’ve seen in this shit year of 2017. You may think what I’m about to write is political, but God help us when a shout out to the arts and public education is seen as political — my heart swelled with goddamn patriotism to see those kids sing. Girls in long dresses and boys in suits being universally awkward in dress up clothes. African American kids, Latino kids, Asian kids, and white kids, and one very glamorous gay white boy with rhinestone-trimmed eye glasses emoting to a Negro spiritual.

THIS is who we are. One motley choir, united in song. THIS is American greatness, right here.

Oh shut up Tracy, you white liberal snowflake, having a diversity moment. 

I believe in the arts to bridge divides. I believe in the arts to transmute painful adolescence into elegant expression. I believe in the public investment of arts education (and all the other eductions, fuck the tax bill very much).

So this holiday season, I want you to do a few things for me, CN.

1.) Show up. I know you will, because you’re all a bunch of good-hearted chumps and sane parents. But gift some young people with your presence. Warm those seats. Shoot daggers with your eyes at your exes if you must, but be there.

2.) Clap loudly. A nervous child just stood up and tried to be magnificent at something. And probably failed. But hey, when was the last time you got on stage and tried to hit the upper range of O Holy Night? Clap. Stomp your feet.

3.) Support the arts. Were you going to buy an ungrateful narcissist a gift this year? Oh hey, here’s a better idea — send some money to the Washington Chorus who goes into public schools (where your tax dollars don’t) and gives kids music education. Not interested? Broke? Support your local arts scene. Support the kids you know, and the ones you don’t. It costs nothing to go to that school assembly (and a box of brownie mix is about two bucks).

The world needs more motley choirs. Thank you.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Yes!!! As a divorced mom who had kids in band and performing arts–this ???? times a ???? times!! All children who participate in the arts do better. Kids who study music are likely to do better in math (literally there are studies that support this) and kids gain confidence and it helps them to be much more understanding of others.

  • Yup, ’tis the season for feeling warm-hearted and hopeful for the future of this embattled country. I just came home from the uncomfortable seats at the local-talent concert, and the atmosphere was absolutely charged with goodwill and camaraderie. Swank and glitzy is very nice and all, but the knock-kneed kid singing his heart out is so much more real and memorable to me!

  • Amen…
    And rbis Tuesday I will be blessed to see my granddaughter’s kindergarten holiday performance..????????.
    All five kindergarten classes at a High School auditorium…and you can bet your bottom dollar, I will be whistling like I was hailing a cab in NY City, for all of them.
    Oh and, DD said “dad will be there.”
    Dont give a fuck, grandpa sucks, thought it didnt say it to DD..Its Emma’s time to shine…????

    • Thanks so much for posting this link, Mr. ChumpLady! It lifts my heart to see these lovely and talented young people singing their message of Christmas cheer. May it spread to all the scrooges in these unfortunate times.

    • Speaking as a choral mom and a chump…nice blend and pitch in that group!! That’s a lotta director work and singers’ work right there. Just beautiful.

      Makes you forget all the garbage for a moment.

  • Yes, yes, yes!! Support your kids with your presence. My cheater resented any attempt on my part to get him to attend our daughter’s performances. Hey, HIS mom never attended any of HIS performances, and HE turned out just fine, thank you very much.


    I attended, often by myself, but I clapped loudly enough for both of us.

    I also want to comment on two local high school choir performances I attended: the first was the “mixed choir”, which has a very active parent support group, the second was the “young women’s choir” – a choir for girls at risk of dropping out of high school for whatever reason. The first group sang to a packed house, with an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.

    The second choir sang to a total of 15 audience members.

    I know it is tough to be a single parent, especially when the X isn’t supportive at all. But BE THERE. Let your kids know how important their activities are to you by showing up. My heart broke for those girls. Yes, I understand that working more than one job can take precedence. I get that. But there are also those narc parents who just can’t be bothered, because taking time to attend their child’s performance gets in the way of their evening of drinking and texting their AP.

    I guarantee your kids will remember that YOU came to their performances.

    • “You are important and worthy of my attention.”

      This has been my message to my sons since they were born. Divorcing their father – who always resented any spotlight on anyone other than himself – only strengthened my resolve to show up for our kids.

      Beautiful message, CL!

  • Dear CN,
    I appreciate this so much. A mom who had kids in sports and in the arts. My children were raised around Gospel, Contemporary Christian, classical, Choral, and Jazz. On Friday I went to my grandsons ( he is 3.) Christmas program for his Daycare/preschool!
    Yes, I clap loudly and I hoop at the end.
    When I got home I cried that this is my First holiday alone (after 25 years of marriage), but I also smiled at the video and pictures of that brave little grandson and his friends singing.
    Thank you for this

  • And us choir geeks as children grow up to be theatre geeks as adults. I have been in a charitable variety show for the past nine years and choirs my whole life( from kindergarten and still counting at 57 years old). I have done many stage shows but didn’t start until 8 years ago . Sound of music, Joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat( twice), music man, Annie, and am now rehearsing for Oklahoma. All local theatre. My point is it was something the disordered narc couldn’t take away from me. My social circle and family of sorts. Yay to all the community theatre geeks out there!!

  • Oh and it’s no coincidence my own kids danced and sang their way through the tough stuff. My son plays guitar drums and bass and his band is signed to Victory records. Such a proud mom here!!!

    • Newlady15, you have a LOT to be proud of! Good for you. And your son! The arts are healing, uplifting, empowering. I just finished a 6-show run of A Christmas Carol, presented as a 1940’s radio broadcast locally. What a great way to do something new & positive my first solo Christmas in 31 years (well, 2d, considering f*wit abandoned me for AP 1 on Christmas 1990…oh, WHY was I so slow to learn?). I made new friends, had fun, played tiny bit parts and thoroughly enjoyed myself!
      My daughter stage manages for her hs theatre group. And loves it.
      I remember after the Sept 11 attacks, when Broadway went dark. I had worked with touring Broadway shows, but still thought it was a little self-indulgent, not as important & meaningful as the kind of work I do now (medical, end-of-life care). After the attacks, and Dday#3 this summer, I hold that the arts are not just important but FUNDAMENTAL. Why fight for life if that life has no joy or entertainment to help us escape the sometime brutality of life?
      I applaud you, CL, for this Public Service Announcement. Great idea, donating & showing up!

  • Oh and if you give to the Washington Chorus (please do), there is a box to say who the gift is for, who you want to honor– and you can write “This gift is in place of buying my cheating ex a handsaw.” Or whatever you were going to buy, but thought better of. Or “This gift is in honor my mightiness.”

    Thank you. I know I haven’t done anything charitable since we broke the diplomatic pouch system in South Sudan.

    Also, I apologize for this picture. Mr CL took it prior to the performance (which we couldn’t photograph, alas.) Best I could do, but it’s kind of warm and glowy.

  • Merry Christmas (if you celebrate) and Happy New Year to all! For newbies coming this way, this is a safe haven for you to seek advice, vent, and also celebrate. In the early days, it’s so hard to see the forest for the trees. There is hope and peace at the end of the shit storm. You just can’t initially see what’s on the other side for all of the debris flying around.

    Ex hated to go to our kids band concerts and daughter’s choir or son’s piano recital. He was at every sporting event and volunteer coaching, mainly so he could get his kibbles for having the best kid after he pushed kids so hard. I was there at it all. Smiling. Clapping. Proud they have experienced so many things in life. No I won’t have a kid that will go on to be a professional musician, but I will have kids that will appreciate the hard work and dedication to the arts.

    Thank you Mr. & Mrs. CL for showing us all the way. I am so grateful to have found you and the nation.

  • LOVED coming home to read this! As a music teacher who is overwhelmed with my first December alone, it was wonderful to get some support from CN. With 13 performances in the first 19 days of December, including 5 this weekend, the reality of being essentially a single parent has made me question my decision to forge ahead into the land of divorce. It was great to be able to reassure myself that I am mighty enough to do this.

    • As a former awkward grade-school warbler, and the daughter of a chump (who BTW has been divorced from cheater parent for 10 years and is healthier & happier for it) – THANK YOU for all the dedicated support and encouragement you give your students <3 Music teachers like you are the reason awkward warblers like me had the courage to get up on stage…and also end up with season tickets to the opera, haha!

  • What a treat to read this post just after getting home from the first of several Messiah performances that I will be playing in the next couple of weeks. Thank you for supporting live music this holiday season– and thank you for the support you have provided me, and many others, the rest of the year.

  • Fuck dinner, I’m dating the first guy that takes me to the Kennedy Center.

    Thank you for sharing CL.

    My granddaughter has been performing all over the state with a choral group this season. And I was overjoyed my son performed in the Jazz band all through high school. I was the geek mom with all the boys at my house every weekend. Fun times!

    • Kennedy center is not a guarantee. Fuckwit took me there a few times. Once, I picked a concert there and we went. To this day fuckwit would complain and say how awful it was. It wasn’t awful, he just wasn’t in control of the choice. One of the shows he picked didn’t impress me but I never complained(I was being a polite chump). He couldn’t return the favor.

      • Feelingit

        For his birthday I booked my favorite hotel in Georgetown, rooftop pool, five star restaurant, and a show at the Kennedy center.

        He complained about the horns blasting, the pool, French crepes, and didn’t bring a jacket and tie. He insisted we walk rather than pay for a cab to KC . I swear crossing fuckimg highways. ASSHOLE.

        And there he sits happy sitting at a casino slot machine with a classless woman who sits on his lap with his hand on her crotch.

        His interests were always centered on looking. Couldn’t please him no matter what. His interest in novelty overrode everything.

    • You rock, Magneto! I always loved art class!

      What you do is mighty and mighty important! I can not even believe it when I hear school districts questioning the validity / need of art & music classes. To me, they are fundamental and greatly enhance the ability of children to excel in the academic subjects.

  • Thank you for this very timely, and very personal for me post. I have been struggling with the fact I have my daughters choir concert this week and I know her dad will be there (which I know is Great) and his ow, for the first time we will be in the same room. Newly engaged, the one he swore was just a friend from work who he could talk to about his feelings and she had divorce in her family so she understands what he is going theouh but he promised they were friends only…six months after divorced signed she is moved in and they are engaged. I pray that I won’t shake the whole time, that I can prevent my face from blushing with rage or embarassement or that she is so beautiful and young (almost 30 years young then My 43 year old husband) I hope I can handle her angelic face when she is so sparkly and in love. That I don’t cry when the lights go down. That I can be there for my daughter and try to put my aching hurt aside and just let it go. That the narcissist won’t getting any supply from me when I see his smell on his face, that I won’t prove him right with see she is nuts, she just can’t get over me and move on when everyone thinks his relationship is wonderful. Just gotta get past, ironically Tuesday.

      • New Life, hang in there, remember the prettiness you see, hides a black heart, she destroyed your family, on purpose! Your ex and his sweetie are nothing more than two pieces of shit, hold your head high , and know that you are the one who is truly beautiful! Hugs to you!

        • NewLife2017 strength and dignity to wonderful you. Know that she has a real prize (not) seriously who would want to be with a cheater.

          Know your worth – integrity and honesty are priceless attributes and best of all you bring your wonderful attributes with you to help you go from strength to strength to apply in your new life.

          • NewLife2017, when she is 40, she will have a 63 year old husband, if they even make it that long…..very doubtful. She will love the gray saggy balls, bald head with his wonderful little blue pills. She may look good now, but it will wear her down and it will age her quickly. She has not won anything other than and cheating fuckwit. You have so much life for yourself with a lot less baggage. People will see it for what it is, a pathetic man needing a young wife for his pathetic ego. You’re so much better then they are, you are mighty!!!

            • I understand new life. I am in a similar position but try to focus on ur child and the fact that you really won because you don’t have to pickme dance anymore! Ow got what she wanted-a pos! He never deserved you in the first place.

      • New life,
        I hope this story helps. My ex-sil, sister of my ex- was the OW. She cheated with her boss despite knowing his wife and twin seven year old sons. She was 17 years younger than my BIL-who was wealthy. They were married and had a young daughter by the time I met the Hemeroid.
        The hemeroid ‘s family welcomed this guy into their ranks but really didn’t like talking about how they met, thus I was unaware of their history for years. Eventually the details trickled out and everything made sense to me. I always wondered what my sister in law ( let’s call her Whoremeroid -trust that the name fits) saw in an old toupee wearing man.

        So Whoremeroid had to take care of everything and wait on ..let’s call him Dummy, hand and foot. He didn’t help with my niece because she promised she would do everything if they had a kid. Remember he was in his late forties. When she “acidentlly” got pregnant again after he catorgorically insisted on no more children, he was in his fifties. He was not happy, blamed her and again didn’t help with the young daughter or infant son.
        Along with the trails and tribulations of life, he eventually had a near fatal heart attack, lost his business ( no more boat, airplane, million dollar home) , had erectile dysfunction, bad knees-he did not age well.
        While this was happening and Dummy was trying to keep up appearances,
        Whoremeroid started to be unhappy in her very exclusive gated community. So being Whoremeroid, and deserving to be happy ( and her brother the Hermeroid agreed with her) she fell ” in love” with the neighbor-who happened to be a multi millionaire.
        The neighbor’s wife ( Whoremeroid’s friend) finds out , Neighbor drops Whoremeroid, files a stalking restraining order on Whoremeroid to prove to wifey he was weak and manipulated by Whoremeroid’s….charms. No more play dates or fourth July parties.

        Dummy leaves in umbrage, the irony, and Whoremeroid had to leave gated community and find rental for herself and kids. During this whole time, to the outside world, they were a happy couple. In reality the “love jones” wore off rather quickly even before the money was gone. Happy family it wasn’t.

        As sad as it was,, what was hilarious was that Dummy couldn’t condemn Whoremeroid’s lack of morals, and couldn’t get an ounce of sympathy from anyone. So fast foward to now. Dummy got so sick that he needed to be taken care of, ass wiped etc. Also he had no place to live. Whoremeroid had to take him in because 1. Didn’t want to appear like a cold hearted bitch to her children- appearances.2. She needed the money the state is paying her to take care of him. Dummy lives in his son’s room. My son says he has sores all over his face and body. Whoremeroid isn’t with anyone and is wiping his butt.

        But the karma wasn’t my point – it’s just what happened to them. Here is my point.
        Remember the mother of the twin boys? The first wife of Dummy? Let’s call her Grace.
        I met Grace at the wedding of one of the now grown sons. She had to be in the room for the first time with her ex- husband and ex- employee, and her sons’ sister and brother. She was a woman in her fifties, healthy and vibrant with a beautiful wrinkled face. She was so regal and kind. Her intelligence shined through her – because of her bearing I was drawn to her.
        I knew my SIL pulled out the stops with getting her hair done, loosing weight etc, even though so many years had past- she still wanted to somehow one up this woman. She failed. Dummy looked like the fool he was in choosing my SIL over someone with such substance. And he knew it- he ended up intixicated and acting like an ass at the wedding.

        I introduced myself to Grace and thanked her for inviting me and told her I thought she was incredibly beautiful. And she hugged me.
        So after this long story my point is that you got this Newlife, because the truth can’t be hidden. Substance does overshadow age, transitory love, malleable ethics and values. I witnessed it first hand and it was a beautiful thing to watch. Grace rocked her badassness -just by being who she was. And she didn’t let anyone change or anyone’s stupidity define her. So rock your badness, your maturity and intelligence.. You are awesome and mighty..I say walk in Grace and like Grace you will shine. And the 23 OW? she’s with your ex, he’s an ass- they’re bothed fucked… Just a matter of time.

    • That’s tacky, OW coming along to the concert. But of course your ex must show off his prize, no matter how inappropriate or hurtful to others. If you find yourself struggling, think of your fellow chumps cheering you on.

  • This is great! Thank you for the uplift. It’s wonderful seeing live music and talent and I’m glad you had a marvelous time. I was the only parent that showed up to my son’s Christmas concert. Last month, he was telling me how embarrassing it was for him to sing and dance in front of people; and the last time he was on stage, he puked before it started -poor kid.
    He was an entirely different kid at this concert! All smiles and completely participating and dancing-so proud! He really allowed himself to have fun with it, and it was a big hurdle to overcome.
    I definitely support the arts and creative expression. I play the violin, and guitar and have other creative hobbies and my son is interested in painting, craft making and also learning the drums. I’m glad he has a creative outlet when he’s with me. His school has such a rigorous curriculum; and, at his dad’s, he plays video games most of the time.
    Last year, for Christmas, my son and I made candle holders for everyone, out of saved jars and an old collection of candles and various ribbons, buttons and feathers. They all came out beautifully-we didn’t spend a dime, and I hope our friends enjoyed the effort and thoughtfulness, (we all have too much stuff already… )
    Feeling good about the holidays this year. My dad is getting me another vehicle since mine has been giving me problems, and we’re not spending Xmas at home, for the first time. Actually had a break-through adult conversation with my ex about our son’s schedule that wasn’t feasible, and we negotiated a change smoothly.
    Of course his closing statements where something about me not wanting to think he’s such and such, say hi to family, Merry Christmas, yada yada and I replied, “Yup. Bye.” Didn’t get sucked into the charade, this time. Such a relief, I’m almost at meh.

  • Yes to the Arts and choral singing. Shout out to all the teachers who help makes it happen too. Choral singing was a passion growing up. My gratitude goes out to my teachers and parents who supported that.

  • Thank you Tracy and Mr Chump Lady! As a Choral parent to 3 fine young men, I appreciate all the hard work that goes into performing. I can’t tell you how much I have loved all the performances over the years. Told my youngest after his Winter concert that I’d be that mom that still goes and offers to chaperone every year just because I love it so much.

    My youngest son and his Chorus (Collins Hill Mastery Mixed) just got invited to sing at Lincoln Center in April under the direction of Eric Whitacre. For those of you that are not Choral fans- he is the Robert Shaw of Choral Music. This is a huge honor!

    We have 50 kids going and I need advice from my fellow Chumps, we are looking for fundraising help. Any ideas that would generate a good amount of funds would be much appreciated. All of you are a creative bunch and will sure to have great ideas!

    Am a firm believer that the arts opens our souls to the beauty of the world. We have seen the darkest of the darkness, but music, painting, photography, dance, etc brings light into our lives.

  • I participated in choir, band & orchestra growing up. Loved it then, miss it now. Took my daughter to see The Nutcracker last night. I forgot how much I love the arts. It was amazing & my daughter loved it, too!!

  • Well said! I attended my first holiday concert this morning for my fourth grader. I sat in the front and watched her scan the audience over and over again until she saw me. I wasn’t feeling very mighty until I read this post and thought of my daughter’s beaming face. It is a time of transition for us- about to move back to the D.C. area after living in Germany for three years. My husband has a few more months left overseas…enough time to spend the holidays with his new Eastern European girlfriend while I move back in with my parents and struggle to buy Christmas presents. I always laughed at the movie Hope Floats, but the quote at the end keeps replaying in my head. Endings are sad, beginnings are scary, but it’s the middle that counts. (Not an exact quote)

  • Fully agree, CL!

    I just gave my son’s Orchestra teacher two tickets to attend our city’s holiday orchestra concert. Our teacher’s are the unsung hero of the arts!

  • I commend any activity that gets kids involved. A salute to the chaperones, teachers, coaches, directors, parents and volunteers who make it happen.

    Anytime that a young person is involved is just time that some drug dealer or gang recruiter isn’t approaching them.

    My girlfriend is gradually introducing me to the arts. I attended the symphony and enjoyed it, although I was disappointed that no AC/DC nor Alabama selections were played.

    Although….one dude playing the cello sure looked a lot like the drummer of the Kentucky Headhunters.

  • Thank you so much for the arts shout out! As one of those choir singing kids who made the trek from the Chicago burbs to DC (a million years ago!) to perform there, your post brought back lots of happy memories!
    For those chumps out there who cannot spare the cash to support the arts, you can still support by going to concerts! Often young classical musicians perform at libraries and other public arenas to “get their feet wet” as they say. I love to take my little one to these because it is a good place to start their appreciation where they don’t have to sit completely still;)

  • I was active in choir, band, orchestra and piano lessons as a child and often think about those long concerts my parents faithfully attended every winter and spring. The hours spent reminding us (I have 3 siblings who also played multiple instruments) to practice, shuttling us to events, the money spent on lessons and instruments and uniforms or costumes. It’s amazing to me that they placed such a high value on our music education. Now as a performer and educator on piano and harp, as well as a member of several choirs, I appreciate their sacrifice even more and hold them up as shining examples of how to support the arts. Thank you for such a passionate post, Tracy. My heart will sing for the rest of the season!

  • Wonderful post!!!

    I was there one that showed up and have still remained the same one.
    My 3 children all show musical gifts, and I love it.
    Music heels.
    Music inspires.
    Music endures forever.

  • >