Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Christmas Pageant

I was really really hoping that our Christmas pageant would be canceled on account of the snow. Well, it wasn’t. Here’s what went down.
A few minutes before the beginning of the pageant, we did a head count. We were missing three shepherds, five angels, one sheep and the baby Jesus (doll). First things first, we had to find a baby Jesus. After all, the nativity isn’t really worth doing without a Jesus. So, we (Tanya and I) frantically searched the church for a doll that we could use. The options we found were as follows: Barney, a teddy bear, Strawberry Shortcake, a boxing glove, and a Caillou doll twice the size of any of the kids in the play. No “normal” dolls to be found. We decided that the teddy bear was the least “offensive” and proceeded to wrap him up in the so-called swaddling clothes, hoping against hope that Mary (who was played by a four year old) would not unwrap the baby Jesus (and expose our fake)…
Next, we had to figure out what to do about the missing players in the play. The angels didn’t really matter that much since we still had two left. Granted, two angels hardly make for a "multitude of heavenly hosts", but it was still better than none. The missing sheep was okay, but there were no shepherds. Sheep definitely need a shepherd, especially since our actors were all under four and the shepherds we had assigned were older and meant to lead the sheep. Besides, the angel of the Lord didn’t exactly proclaim anything to a bunch of grazing sheep. So, downstairs to find someone willing to play a shepherd with no rehearsal and to tend to some very unruly sheep (Matias being one of them). After being turned down twice, I managed to rope in one of the youth (who saw it as his ticket to get out of singing later ;) So, crisis averted; we had a shepherd. Now, to find him a costume….
Tanya tries her key in the locked door behind which are all the costumes. Guess what? The door doesn’t open. I’m not kidding. The key that worked last week, doesn’t work today. Now the mad dash looking for people who have keys who may be able to open the door, as the clock ticks closer and closer to 5pm, when the service begins. After trying multiple keys, trying to pick the lock and pry it open, we manage to get it open and get the costumes. At this point, we peek into the church to see whether things have started. They haven’t, but some of the kids are playing behind the manger scene and one kid is taking hay from the manger and throwing it around the “stable”. Oh well, no time to go down there and stop her, so we just hope that there is still some hay left on which to lay the baby Jesus.
So, we round up the kids and try to get them into their various costumes. One room+six excited kids changing into costumes=NUTS! I manage to grab a storybook from the Sunday School room, so that once the kids are dressed, they can sit on the floor “listening”. Once everyone is dressed, more or less, we head downstairs. We wait in the hall for our cue. I am literally holding the kids back so they don’t all charge into the church before the choir has even finished singing. Joseph keeps saying that he is first. No one can stand in front of him in the line. The sheep keep pushing to get to the front…
Finally, it’s our turn. The music is cued and Mary and Joseph enter the church with baby Jesus tucked safely in Mary’s arms. They enter nicely and even remember to lay Jesus down in the manger. Next come the sheep. The shepherd leads the way. I whisper to the sheep as they enter the church, “remember to crawl”, since sheep are four-legged animals. The first sheep goes the wrong way, but realizes his mistake and finds his spot. The second sheep tries to crawl, but keeps getting stuck. Poor kid, his costume is too big and he can’t move his legs. Finally, after some adult intervention, he makes his way to centre stage. The third sheep upon hearing my advice, says “no thank you” and proceeds to walk on two legs. She decides to act out the lost sheep rather than the nativity scene and proceeds to sit at the back of the stage on a chair (waiting to be “found” I presume).
The angels come out. No problems there. Well, unless you count the fact that the sheep aren’t quite resting at centre stage like they are supposed to be. The angels make their proclamations and exit the stage. The shepherd and sheep go straight to the manger instead of off stage (I guess they found a detour to get to Jesus faster). The angels reappear and head to the manger as well, picking up the “lost sheep” on the way, who has spent the whole play sitting at the back…
Everyone is at the manger scene. One of the sheep picks up Jesus. Oh well. The kids proceed to sing. You can actually hear them; wow. Of course one of the angels is standing with her back to the audience in the front, but at least she is focused on Jesus… And then it’s over. The kids stumble their way out of the church. We take the kids upstairs, take off the costumes, get dressed and that’s it. We are done and can breathe a sigh of relief that despite everything, the play had some semblance of order, that the kids actually sang and didn’t merely stare at the audience and that no one had a last minute meltdown refusing to go on stage. The baby Jesus did accidentally get left behind in the manger at the end, but oh well. It could have been worse...

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