WASHINGTON -- Christmas came early for Arlington-native, Cathy Strickler who checked off an item on her bucket list: performing with Washington D.C.'s National Symphony Orchestra.

On Saturday, Cathy Strickler was invited onstage to play violin. The 74-year-old says it was dream some 65-years-in the making.

To make the moment even more touching, the violin Strickler performed with was the same instrument she says her parents purchased for her when she was in the 4th grade.

“My music teacher said they even stain it to look like a Stradivarius,” said Strickler. A Stradivarius is a brand of violin that can cost thousands-of-dollars.

WUSA 9 asked Strickler what her violin would say if it could talk.

“It would say, ‘I can’t believe that I’m here!” she answered.

The Virginia native says she didn’t get to play as much as she wanted. The Kennedy Center shared a video of the Saturday concert with us. In the video, the Orchestra’s Conductor takes the microphone and explains his next guest (Strickler) to the crowd.

“A couple of months ago – it was in October, uh, I was reading Washington Post here. And there’s an article by the wonderful John Kelly. And it’s all about bucket list items," Strickler said.

The Washington Post is where Strickler wrote about her dream to play 2nd Violin, Last Stand … one piece. She also wrote why:

“Cathy grew up in a blue collar Arlington neighborhood, her family didn’t have money for private lessons, so she took lessons at a public elementary school, Woodmont. And then played in the Orchestra at Stratford Junior High and Washington Lee High School,” the video continued.

When Strickler got the invite …

“I practiced like hell – for two weeks,” she said.

It’s a dream come true -- the moment captured in a photo taken of Strickler holding her right fist in the air with her violin and bow clasped in her left hand. Her smile reached from cheek-to-cheek.

This nod wasn’t just a celebration with the orchestra – or a symbol to young performs. Strickler says it was also a shout-out to teachers.

“I wanted to honor public school teachers who hang in there with students who may not even look like they are appreciating what they are receiving, but it has an effect,” said the Arlington-native.

We asked why the bucket list, whether there was something going on. Strickler says she just wanted to do it.