It’s that time of year again. It’s Christmas program time. The time when parents pack into gymnasiums and auditoriums like sardines to watch their children sing holiday classics.

I can only compare attending one of these programs to riding coach on a plane. You’re always sitting uncomfortably close to someone you don’t know. You’re breathing in everyone else’s hot breath, and there is the faint smell of someone else’s gas wafting in the air. Fun, right?

That is, of course, if you’re lucky enough to get a seat. Many times I’ve stood along a wall, or squatted in an aisle, because every seat in the place was taken. I usually get stuck trying to peek around people, or peer through any gap in people that I can find, just to get a glimpse of my kids singing their little hearts out.

Although I’m sure this could be considered some form of torture, it is a torture that we gladly endure. With the number of pictures snapping and flashes going off, you would think the place was filled with paparazzi. It’s just us parents trying to capture a moment in time, as it seems to go by so fast.

I suppose it’s easy to complain about this school mandated holiday tradition, but the truth is that it only lasts a short time. We should enjoy every moment we have with our children. They don’t stay children for long. Before you know it, they will be grown, and the house will be empty, and we will be wishing to be crammed into a school gymnasium with strangers, just trying to get a glimpse of the show.

Click on the links below to find a school Christmas program near you.

Joy Larson is a mother of four boys, graduate of the University of Montana, animal lover and writer.