Merry Christmas! How handy that my favorite holiday lands on a Tuesday, my favorite day to post. I know that many of you are busy today, and this entire week (okay, month) but I’m posting anyway because I have a few pictures and thoughts to share with you.
My topic? Christmas Pageants.
Ever since I was a wee girl, singing “Away in a Manger” (in which, apparently, I sang, “The ‘tars in the ‘ky”) in the church Christmas program, I have loved Christmas pageants.
The very phrase conjures up images of dimpled angels with crooked halos; wooly and grumpy sheep sweating under the lights, their guardian shepherds wielding eye-poking crooks; and small boys wearing their father’s bathrobes, gaudy crowns perched rakishly on their heads. Who couldn’t love such a scene?
And don’t forget Mary and Joseph, two adolescent kids standing awkwardly side-by-side, gazing adoringly at a plastic doll and trying desperately not to look as if they despise each other while their mothers nervously wonder if, someday in the not-so-distant future, those two kids – who have, of course, known each other since diapers – could possibly ever be excited to be so linked.
Some moms are praying that they will. Some are praying that the casting is in no way prophetic and dreaming up ways to fake an angelic visit should such a thing ever be even a remote possibility. An angel that warns girls to run far away from boys until she is at least 22 and out of college.
Mary, of course, didn’t have that option. For several reasons.
But I didn’t mean to write about theology. Though, if you really think about it, the very scene I just described – the quintessential Nativity Scene (crèche/nursery/manger scene, depending on what country you hail from) – is, in and of itself, biblically inaccurate because the wise men didn’t make it to the manger. They came when Jesus was two. But those wee boys in their robes are just too cute a tradition to break.
But I digress. Again.
I love the annual Christmas program. I love the kids tripping over their costumes. I love the shepherds pretending that their staffs are lightsabers. I love the kid who holds the “M” card upside down, turning “C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S” into “C-H-R-I-S-T-W-A-S”.
Christ was what?
But back to the pageants.
I love the tiny band, formed of kids still learning how to hold their instruments without bonking their neighbor with the fully-extended trombone slide. I love the off-key, ear-splitting racquet. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!” The band is my favorite.
I love the tone-deaf kid who sings his or her heart out, two beats behind the rest of the angelic choir. I adore that kid.
I also adore the small, sweet voices that stumble over their lines. The bold voices who, I know, have worked nightly on their parts and stand with confidence before the microphone because they know this, though three weeks ago they feared they could never do it. (One girl, during this year’s program, gave her mom a wink after doing her line. It was priceless!) I love the expressive voices and I love the tentative voices, whose owners look at me, their die-hard director, encouraging them from the front pew, just needing that nod, that smile, to boost their confidence.
“You can do this!” I say with my grin. “Ignore Grandma and Grandpa in the audience. Don’t pay attention to Aunt Suzy’s video camera. Don’t be afraid!”
Don’t be afraid…“Fear not…The Lord is with you…Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” – Luke 1
And I do believe.
Merry Christmas, everyone.