Growing up most families spend the month of December partaking in family traditions such as; making Christmas cookies, building gingerbread houses, decorating the Christmas tree, going to see lights in the city, drinking hot chocolate while watching Christmas favorites on television, and the list could go on. However, this was not the case growing up for Phia Foley, an incoming Senior at Martinsville High School. Phia spent every Christmas season, starting in first grade through freshman year, performing in the Yuletide Celebration at Hilbert Circle Theater in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Phia’s mother, Sherilyn Foley, is a professional dancer and spent many years as a dancer in Yuletide before having kids. When Phia and her twin sister, Gwennie, were born their mother took a year off before going back to dancing. “My mom then got us into it [performing] once we were toddlers,” said Phia. As young kids, Phia and her sister were cast in the role of the two kids in the scene “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” They played that role until they grew out of it and then they transitioned to being tap dancing Santas.
Soon the whole family was involved! Their dad got hired as one of the technical guys in charge of maneuvering heavy props on stage. The whole family was getting paid to be apart of the Christmas celebration, including the girls. They performed the whole month of December, starting around November 30th and then ending shows on December 23rd. Mondays were days off, then they would perform in the evenings on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and finally Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were two shows a day. Imagine having such a crazy schedule so close to the end of the year!
After one year of trying to jungle the stress of being a high school student and doing Yuletide, the family decided to discontinue their part in the show. Phia and Gwennie wanted to be apart of the cheer squad and take all these difficult classes that the Yuletide performance would inhibit their focus on school.
“We would do our homework in the car on the hour drive up and back home. We’d do it between shows and during intermissions…it was just a lot.” Even though Phia misses being apart of the Yuletide show she says it is really nice being home for Christmas.