‘Tis the Season for Christmas Pageants

25 Dec

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.

If you were a star, wouldn't you use your prop as an air guitar, too?

If you were a star, wouldn’t you use your prop as an air guitar, too?

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?

A few of the animals at the stable.  In various degrees of happiness.

A few of the animals at the stable. In various degrees of happiness.

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.

092 2

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.

The shepherds as they received the Good News!

The shepherds as they received the Good News!

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.

The whole cast in all their glory.

The whole cast in all their glory.

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?

"Wise" men...always a debatable term...

“Wise” men…always a debatable term…

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.

That's my boy!

That’s my boy!

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.

My favorite wee angel - one year ago.

My favorite wee angel – one year ago.

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.

I love this photo.

I love this photo.

C-h-r-i-s-t-W-A-S…Still is.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Last year's whole cast.

Last year’s whole cast.


18 Responses to “‘Tis the Season for Christmas Pageants”

  1. treadlemusic December 25, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    The message continues!!! Amen and amen!! Gotta love a shepherd in a bathrobe!! Hugs,D

  2. ljhlaura December 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    Enjoyed the sweet pictures and spot-on, heartfelt description … Merry Christmas!

  3. Hotly Spiced December 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    I love a Christmas Nativity too. With children in the starring roles it’s always so unpredictable and consequently full of laughs. I wrote/directed a nativity for 12 years. It had 120 kids in it and live animals including camels. Everyone wanted to be a wise man so they could enter the church on a camel – even the girls. And the other coveted role was Mary because you could enter on a donkey. With so many in the cast we had a lot of ‘extra’ roles with spiders, lady birds, moths, bunnies, pigs etc all in the manger as well. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas xx

    • Gretchen O'Donnell December 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

      Oh, my goodness! I cannot imagine!!!! That must have been insane. You are so brave! I wish I could have seen it!!

  4. Minnesota Prairie Roots December 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    Everything about this post makes me smile with happiness and joy and thanksgiving on this Christmas afternoon. As always, thank you for gifting us with your inspiring and insightful words and those adorable photos also. Merry Christmas!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell December 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

      To you, too, Audrey! And thank you. I hope you’re enjoying your day and your family around you!

  5. Jenny December 25, 2012 at 4:47 pm #

    This year, in our church, the Nativity roles were played by the grown-ups; the young at heart. I got talked into being Gabriel! My husband was not sure about me being an angel! The kids sang and did the talking parts as the narrators. One of the wise men, was played by a woman, as was one of the shepherds. When the director said that one, or more, of the wise men should kneel she was told by all, that if they did they would not be able to get back up again! With age comes wisdom right! Needless to say the second service went better than the first! Though an older, wiser shepherd did take a tumble, when he got back up from sitting on the steps and relied too much on his prop staff to help him back up!! Good thing he was close to the ground to begin with. I have to admit that is was kind of fun. To do once anyway!

    Merry Christmas to you my talented little sister. May 2013 hold many more wonderful posts from you!!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell December 25, 2012 at 10:12 pm #

      I wish I’d seen you in your angelic role! That’s a fun idea, doing it that way. Love you!

  6. vyvacious December 25, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    It seems you were an awesome director! What cute photos and stories 🙂

    • Gretchen O'Donnell December 25, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

      Oh, I don’t know about “awesome”…but it’s always fun, in the long run. The kids are cute and no matter what happens, everyone enjoys it!

  7. Clyde of Mankato December 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

    At my daughter’s church pageant, one of the little angels boogied wildly all through Silent Night. My daughter got it on tape. The same angel, of course, stood dead still when they did a song with movement in it.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell December 26, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

      That’s hilarious. A perfect example of the contrariness of children! If I could, I would attend all the pageants I possibly could. Trouble is, I always have to be at my church getting ready for our own. I suppose that knowing the kids does help one to enjoy it more…

  8. gardenfreshtomatoes December 27, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    An absolutely perfect Christmas Post, Gretchen. I miss directing the kindergarten chior; you just made me remember and realize that…
    I hope the rest of the week was just as wonderful and heartwarming!
    (Gotta love an angel who plays Star Guitar!)

    • Gretchen O'Donnell December 28, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

      Oh, aren’t you kind? Thank you. We’ve had a lovely Christmas – quiet, which was just fine with me. And yes, my Boo and her friend who were the stars were so fun to watch! I am always relieved when the program is over…but, yes, I suppose that someday I’ll miss it, too!

  9. dedy oktavianus pardede January 17, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

    your post just driven me to my childhood memories..
    thax for sharing then…..

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