I was a sophomore in high school and was grounded for eight weeks … and it was Christmastime!
What the heck did I do to get myself in such a pickle at the most fun time of the year? I was out dancing … okay, I was out dancing waaay too late and my parents didn’t know where I was. Sure, I could’ve called from the dance hall, but, you know, it was just too darn inconvenient to stop having fun to get change for a dollar and call them on the pay phone (cell phones would’ve been really good to have in the 70’s).
In my teens, whenever I was grounded, it was usually because I was dancing or rollerskating way too late or went without telling my parents after leaving band practice, or basketball practice, or play rehearsal, or some other school activity. I don’t know if you’d call it an addiction, but I sure had a passion for the dance, so much so that I’d often throw caution to the wind and just go for it whenever an exciting dance or skating opportunity presented itself.
Well, back to me being grounded at Christmastime. It was the worst of times—for a teenager—and the best of times. The worst of times because I couldn’t go dancing or rollerskating, and the best of times because it was the first time that the gifts did not matter to me … at all. I realized that I’d rather be on the dance floor or kicking up dust in the roller rink with friends and other like-minded souls who shared the same passion. No gift could replace the euphoria I felt doing those things.
To say that I was bent out of shape for being grounded would be quite an understatement. Sure, I knew that I brought it upon myself, but eight weeks?! Seriously?!?! I didn’t believe that the punishment fit the crime. Those eight weeks covered Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Plus, living in the country on 10 acres gave new meaning to being grounded. We moved there halfway through my freshman year. Sitting on the porch and watching cars or people go by was like watching paint dry. It was during this isolation from my “passion” that I realized how much I missed being with friends, making new friends, meeting people, and having an extreme blast on the dance floor. Dancing always felt like a spiritual experience. It took me to a place where I wanted to stay … forever. (Dancers know what I’m talking about.) No gift could ever replace the feeling I got from those intangibles.
So, as terrible as that grounding was, it turned out to be one of the best gifts I have ever received. It allowed me to reflect about what Christmas really means, and to enjoy spending time with my friends and family (eventually; remember, I was a hot, disgruntled, grounded teen at that moment) even more.
Years later, that same passion that got me into trouble transitioned into a decade of throwing large Christmas parties for 100 to 200 people with live bands so that we could—what else—dance! They were epic parties, full of joy, each one an intangible gift that took me to a place where I wanted to stay forever.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Ewan Topping