I apologize in advance if this is a rambling post – this is definitely based on memories – not sure where I’m going….
Growing up we attended Pleasant Run Presbyterian Church. Every year there was a children’s pageant. Some years, it was a play – often written and directed by the most fabulous Doris Nell. Other years, at least as I remember it, it was a series of Christmas songs, poems, scriptures readings put together by the Sunday School teachers. The very first pageant I remember being in we did the song “The Friendly Beasts”and I was a dove (please if I am remembering this incorrectly don’t tell me I was a sheep). All I really remember is fluffy white head piece. I didn’t have to say anything or sing anything. I just had to stand there and look cute.
When I got too old to be in the pageant – and especially once I came to college and was majoring in Music Education, they allowed me to help direct and run the pageant. My best memory is the year that Doris Nell adapted the book “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” for our little congregation. I got to help lead it. Well, short synopsis of the story – the pageant doesn’t turn out in the imagined “perfect” way it is supposed to. And…. neither did ours! The narrator’s son, climbed up to his mom and screamed into the microphone, something fell over, lines were forgotten, but the laughter – and tears (not of frustration but of the beauty of children being children ) that commenced stick in my mind. I can’t for the life of me remember the narrator’s name, or her child’s name, but I can see them in my mind’s eye plain as day.
Through all the years of the pageant there are things that were tangental to being there that the adults probably didn’t remember even mattered. But, I remember cold Saturday morning practices. I remember there being food there. I remember one of the first practices we would have to stay and hang the greens, decorate the tree, put up the Jesse Tree banner.
I remember the silly bathrobe costumes, I remember the unique smell of wax and furniture polish and old books in the choir room. I remember standing for what seemed like hours – doing it again. In hindsight, the preparation for the pageant was as special as the evening itself.
But…. ahhhhhh….. the evening itself. My dad’s mom did not attend church. That is not to say she wasn’t a believer, she just didn’t go. But when her “baby dolls” were in a program, she came. And so did MawMa – my great-grandmother. It wouldn’t have mattered what our part in the play was or if we really goofed it up badly. We were stars in their eyes. Grandma Fern would always come too.
After the program, there would be a big party in the church basement. Cookies, punch, and SURPRISE! a visit from Santa Claus always happened. Santa always gave us an orange and a box of hard candy ( what my sister and I did with that candy is probably a post for another day). On the way home, we would look at Christmas lights.
As an adult and professional musician, I now appreciate the countless hours our Sunday School teachers, parents and other volunteers from the congregation – not to mention the preacher – spent providing these opportunities for the little children to have an active role in the advent and anticipation of Christmas. I had no idea growing up how many people were invested in me.
Just a note – if you have a child in a program this season (or ever) – don’t worry if they flip their shirt or skirt up, pick their nose, cry, scream, wave, giggle, sit down and refuse to participate. They are building memories and so are you. Make them YOUR star!
I’m really sorry I don’t have any pictures from back then. I was a cute little dove:)