When I was a little girl, my family drove from Houston to the Olympics in Montreal. It was the bicentennial and many cities were doing re-enactments. We were treated to a slew of American history through the years on our long drive.

I remember learning how to make a pewter spoon in Williamsburg, and going camping near the battlefield at Gettysburg and thinking this is how soldiers slept before that horrible battle.

We had a tour of the White House and Mount Vernon. We went to Plymouth and saw the replica of the Mayflower and walked through buildings that showed how life for the pilgrims would have been.

My parents, longtime Galveston residents Russ and Joan Mertens, were a great pair, one with the love of history and one with a flair for the dramatic, and they made the trip fun with learning and adventure.

We picked up a rock that day on our visit, our own Plymouth rock. Thanksgiving Day 1976 we drew 1620 on it and placed it on our table. Probably like the first thanksgiving, which was a mixture of family, friends and strangers, my mom has always invited our family and anyone that doesn’t have a family near to go home for the holidays.

It was always my job to make a centerpiece around our Plymouth Rock, which I will do Thursday for the 41st time. We will sit down and wish my dad were still at the head of the table cutting the turkey, but feeling thankful for the big, growing family of which he was the patriarch.

We will be grateful for old friends and the ones we will make that day. Our Plymouth rock has been the centerpiece of decades of celebrations, seen hundreds of people share a meal, play games and tell stories of what we are thankful for, like family traditions.

I am sure that South Shore Harbour Resort has housed hundreds of little girls in night gowns with their families in the rooms. But Friday night, little girls of all ages converged on the resort all attired in night gowns, but this time they were all downstairs.

They were there to attend a slumber party with Clara from The Nutcracker. They were all treated to milk and cookies and story time with Clara. Then “all of the children were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.” When they woke up they donned their beautiful Christmas dresses and went to the Crystal ballroom where the magic of the 29th annual Bay Area Houston Ballet and Theater Breakfast with the Sugarplum Fairy took place. Every little girl’s dream came true as they were mesmerized by a preview performance of The Nutcracker Ballet, and acted like rock star groupies when they were able to meet the dancers in person.

“This is such a magical event,” Jill Reason, president of the BAHBT, said. “League City is one of our big sponsors and South Shore Harbour Resort; we couldn’t do it without them.”

“This is our 29th year and it’s a yearly tradition for so many. We now have ladies that attended the event as little girls or even danced, that are now bringing their little girls.”

The attendees were entertained by a preview of The Nutcracker but you can start a new tradition and see the wonderful holiday ballet with your family on Dec. 1-3 and Dec. 8-10 at the bayou theater at the University of Houston Clear Lake. You can buy tickets at BAHBT.org

Ange Mertens’ column, The A List, covers society and charity events in North Galveston County.

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