I went to see Fiddler on the Roof at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres Saturday night. There was something ironic about going to a show set in a Russian village when the temperature right outside our own home was ten degrees below zero. Still, the story is one that warms the heart.

Watching the show on Saturday night, I was fine until they got to the song, “Sunrise, Sunset.” That’s when I started to get a little choked up.
I was at the theatre with my husband, our son, and his girlfriend. I tried to arrange the outing to take place when our daughter and her husband were here visiting over Christmas so we could all go together, but that didn’t work out. By the time they had their travel plans finalized and we had our holiday schedule worked out, there were no tickets left on any of the nights we could all make it to the theatre.

Fiddler on the Roof is one of my three all-time favorite Broadway musicals. (Camelot and Man of La Mancha are the other two, in case you’re curious.) I love the story, I love the characters, and I especially love the songs.

Fiddler was the first musical my husband and I saw together, after receiving tickets to a nearby dinner theatre for Christmas the first year we were married. Even then – long before we had kids of our own – I got a bit sentimental during the song about how quickly children grow up. As Tevye and his wife, Golde, sing about “the little girl I carried” and “the little boy at play” during their oldest daughter’s wedding, they marvel at how “swiftly fly the years, one season following another, laden with happiness and tears.”

I’ve seen the show a number of times since then, both in live theatre and in the movie version. The latest, other than last Saturday night, was a few years ago when my daughter – already living in Florida and dating the young man who would become her husband – called to tell me that Fiddler was playing in Orlando, and asking if we’d like to come down for a visit and go to see Fiddler while we were there. My husband wasn’t able to make it, but I was on the next plane headed south.

When I look at my daughter today – or at my son – I, too, marvel at how swiftly the years have flown. I ask myself, just as Tevye and Golde did in song, “When did she get to be a beauty? When did he grow to be so tall? Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?”

I think of all the “happiness and tears” we’ve known since then. There have been a lot of both, and there will surely be a lot more, in our lives and in theirs. And the years will continue to fly swiftly by.

What I find most amazing about Fiddler on the Roof is how much and how strongly so many of us can relate to this story set in a tiny Russian village in the early 1900’s, and how universal its themes are. It was timely and relevant to me when I was a young bride 35 years ago. And it is just as timely and relevant today, when my daughter is one.

At the theatre on Saturday night, when Tevye and Golde started singing at their daughter’s wedding, I looked over at my husband, thinking of all we’ve done and been through together over the years. Then I glanced over at my son and his girlfriend, thinking about all the possibilities ahead of them in their lives.

Then I just sat back, smiled to myself, and wiped away a tear, enjoying the show and the warm feelings that were all around me – up on stage and in the cozy booth my family and I were sharing.

Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset…..

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on January 9, 2014.

©Betty Liedtke, 2014

I welcome your comments on this column. Please be aware that all comments will be moderated and approved before appearing on this blog. This is to protect all of us from unwanted spam.