Monday, December 15, 2008

The Fabled Christmas Program

I should have expected it. I totally should have.

In first grade I secretly gloated the fact that I was picked to be Mrs. Claus. I had 22 lines in our class Christmas play, second only to Santa himself, with 33 lines. I remember counting them to make sure I was the most important girl part. Sure, the prettiest girl was picked to be the snow queen, but I had WAY MORE LINES.

And over the years I loved each and every chance to take the stage at Christmas. I sang solos at church in pretty dresses. I performed yearly in our church Christmas cantatas. I was in every Christmas play, program, and concert for school. Once I read a self-penned poem at the local radio station. A sixth grade nerd's star never shone so bright! Too bad the boy I had to sing a duet with that year was tone deaf and caused me much mortification. Star extinguished. Oh the drama!

I loved singing and acting. And I truly loved telling the Christmas story in a million ways even as a child. So many of my fond Christmas memories are wrapped up in songs and lines once memorized and forgotten until they re-appear each year like the ornaments at the bottom of the Christmas decorations box...

My hunky husband also has a history of Christmas stage and song. Just last night we shared a good laugh about the moving performance he gave in his 9th grade band concert via the "Christmas Rap ." (Or is it "Christmas Wrap?" Anyway, I will pay good money to anyone who will give me a copy of this concert on videotape...)

So, I hoped for the best but feared the worst as Annabelle and Joey prepared for their very first Christmas program this year. Would they mumble and look scared? That would be slightly disappointing, but I would learn to cope. Would they be perfect angels and sing each word and perform each dance move with reverence to honor the birth of Jesus? One can only dream. Would they do something totally embarrassing or have a melt-down mid program? Probably. But what EXACTLY would they do?

From the get-go Saturday night, it was clear that Joey would have no part in standing on stage with the other kids. He was a lot younger than the other kids and the director, a saintly college student, mostly just wanted to include him for the cute factor. So through the program he sat on the director's lap and wandered the church a little bit, but was surprisingly a very good two year old boy! He was even "better" than his baby brother, who proceeded to poo and pee through his diaper on to his daddy's pants during the program.

Then there's Annabelle.

Annabelle at 4 1/2 is probably more of a drama queen than I ever was, even at the height of my Mrs. Claus glory. But she is also pretty sensitive, and I feared that an audience might make her scared or cry if she forgot something and then we'd have to pay for major counseling later in life. Nope. Annabelle exuded all the joy and excitement of Christmas in one little blond and wiggly package. She sang the words as loud as she could and did all the actions with extra wiggles and jumps for affect. I tried to look at the other kids during the program...I really did...but my eyes just kept coming back to her. Especially since she was front and center, of course. Then came her "solo" with her best bud Nathan, who just turned 5, and who was also entertaining to watch in his own right. They were supposed to hold hands and sing about how baby Jesus being born would bring redemption for all. Very sweet, right? And in practice it was rumored to be very sweet....Here's reality play by play:

Music swells as solo begins.

Annabelle grabs Nathan's hand and jerks him over to where she is standing.

Annabelle and Nathan do their best to sing the big words and big tune they've been given, and do so with gusto for such little kiddos.

As soon as their solo ends, Annabelle shoves Nathan as hard as she can to his spot again and yells, "And don't touch me AGAIN!"

The whole church erupts in laughter, including kids on stage and Nathan himself. Annabelle just grins and EATS. IT. UP.

I look at Frank who's practically crying from laughing so hard and is trying desperately to compose himself.

I put my head on the table in front of me. Sigh. So much for redemption for all. It was a strange mix of embarrassment and pride that I'm sure will be a part of many Christmases to come.

I do have to say, though, my favorite part of the night was when our pastor got up after the program to thank everyone for coming, invited them to stay and eat, and said something that will stay with me....he reminded us of how Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to little children such as these. Little children who are as God made them to be without apology or embarrassment, I thought. Who love to praise their maker even if they look silly. And at that moment, as if on cue, my wandering Joey ran to my pastor wanting to be held. I am so very thankful to have a pastor and church that loves my kids and places importance on children. I also was reminded that on the days I don't have it altogether, how very good it is to run to my God like a little child and trust Him to take care of the things I can't.

So....any fond memories of Christmas programs of yore to share? C'mon, I know you have some good ones!


Amy said...

Aw, Beth! That was a great story. Totally one for the ages, so make sure you write it down in a book or something for them. Because I'm sure some day Annabelle will be like, "Blog? What's a blog?" Or the internet will have exploded by then or something. So write it down elsewhere, so she can see it. I love kids programs. They are always good for a laugh.

Helen said...

Amy is right! That is so cute!

katdish said...


Annabelle is my HERO! Rachel's friend Justin was always super shy around a big crowd and always cried his eyes out whenever they had to sing anything at VBS closing or pre-school shows. But at home, he would walk around all day with his little guitar and his cowboy boots singing and declaring to everyone that would listen that he was "Cowboy Jeff". (Incidentally, Justin is the son of Mike Berlinski - the criminal mastermind behind my unfortunate incident with the reciprocal saw.)