By Ruth Topper
If you are like me, it gets to be the second week in December and holiday panic starts to hit you. Christmas is just two weeks away and the list of things to do to “get ready” keeps growing. There is shopping to do, gifts to wrap, a Christmas letter and cards to get in the mail, cookies to bake, and concerts/parties to attend. With all these things to do it is very easy to lose track of the true meaning of Christmas.
But there is one event that helps me keep the true meaning of Christmas in mind: Helping to coordinate the annual Christmas Pageant at my church. About 10 years ago for some now unknown reason I said “yes” when asked if I would like to help coordinate our first pageant. (Perhaps it was that my home church never had a pageant while I was growing up and I had an inner desire to be part of one!) My decision may also have been made a little easier knowing that there was a script, music director in place and that two other friends, Julie and Kathleen, were also willing to help. Thus began my pageant coordinating career.
It never fails to amaze Julie and I how well the pageant “production” turns out! We leave our Saturday morning practice the day before the big event and just shake our heads, wondering how this is ever going to pull together. Although the kids have been practicing the music with our wonderful and talented music director, Pete, for more than a month, you just never know exactly what is going to happen when you have 2 year old lambs and 4th graders playing the roles of Elizabeth, Zachariah, Mary, Joseph, the Innkeeper, the angel Gabriel, etc.
Our original script included children from age 2 through 8th grade. Volunteers sewed costumes for our shepherds and cast, made sheep, donkey and cow “heads” (so our pre-schoolers would look authentic as our friendly beasts), cut angel wings out of posterboard and decorated Burger King crowns for our Wise Men! Ten years later we still make use of all of those wonderful costuming props.
Some of my favorite pageant moments over the years have been:
- Never knowing exactly what those 2 and 3 year old lambs are going to do…
- Sean, now graduated from high school, playing the bagpipes, several years in a row, for the processional for our 3 kings
- Our band of 6th to 8th graders playing several of our pageant songs
- Hearing “Mary” and “Elizabeth” sing the “Cherry Tree Magnificat” based on Luke 1:47-55
- When Pete, our director, asked where the Innkeeper’s Wife was at practice one year and Matt (the Innkeeper) calmly replied that he was single!
- Learning and loving songs that I had never heard until I got involved with the pageant – “Get Ready”, “Mary Had a Baby” and “Little Lamb”
Every year as the pageant season begins again I question myself as to why I continue to help with it. My kids are “aging” out of the pageant and I certainly don’t need something else to add to my “to do” list. However I just think about my favorite pageant moments over the past few years and it draws me back again. So–if given the opportunity–I would encourage you to attend the Children’s Christmas Pageant at your church or school. It will certainly bring a smile to your face and help remind you of “the reason for the season.”
How do you keep the true meaning of Christmas alive? Have you helped organize a similar Christmas pageant, play or musical event? Feel free to share your experiences below.