Not The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

One of the great things about having friends who are teachers is you get invited to activities you’re otherwise missing out on.

Case in point, my youngest nephew was in his first Christmas program this week. He apparently – and yet, not surprisingly – brought the house down with his charm, hilarity, and – oh yeah – his rendition of Feliz Navidad. He’s three. I was bummed to miss it.

My friend M teaches first and second grade at a Catholic school, so when she told me about her school’s Christmas program, visions of the scene in Home Alone and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever came to mind.

Here was my opportunity for an early dose of kid-themed Christmas spirit. I’ve crashed weddings and work parties, but never a school Christmas pageant. “Are there any cute dads?” I asked.

It was fun to meet her students and put faces to the names of these mini straight talkers. They’re often giving her dating advice and ranting in general about life and her stories are always good ones.

They performed first, and sang Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

It was cute. They had motions. They finished strong with a little worm action. The song, while not religious, was age appropriate and traditional. They wore homemade antlers. It worked.

The next age group…fourth graders I believe…danced along to Taylor Swift’s version of “Last Christmas.” This is where I started to question things. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a decent version of the song. But the kids weren’t even singing. And something about it just felt off.

And that became the theme of the other classes too. The third graders’ parents rewrote “The 12 Days of Christmas” to better relate to the students, and that was the only time Jesus was mentioned in any of the performances. Again, I was mostly surprised because I was sitting in a Catholic church. Watching a Catholic school’s Christmas program. Now I’m not Catholic, but I participated in a few Christmas choir performances in my day. I’m sure we sang carols about the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.

But nope, not at this church. No Away in the Manger. No Angels We Have Heard on High. No Silent Night. No The First Noel.

And then there was the 8th graders “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”

I don’t know if you remember the awkward weird sexual (for lack of a better term) tension that went along with a middle school dance. But here I was watching it. At a Catholic School Christmas show.

Is this what all Catholic School Christmas shows look like? Or just the ones in southern California?

And I was really bugged about nobody singing. (Except for M’s kids.) Yes, the choreographed routines were lovely, but if a three year old can remember the words of Feliz Navidad, I feel like a 7th grader can sing “Frosty the Snowman.” At least ALONG with the cd.

Then FINALLY the angels appeared. To the tune of Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.

Thus began my favorite less-than-5-minutes of the program. They medley-d (again via cd) to O Come All Ye Faithful and little kids started walking down the aisle, all players in a living nativity. A miniature Mary and Joseph came down. I forget what song was playing then, but I can’t forget the huge smile on Joseph’s face. And the way his arm was around Mary’s shoulders. And the fact that Mary was holding a super creepy Baby Jesus doll.

OMG. How could I forget? It was O Holy Night!!!

So yes I would have rather heard the kids singing all these songs, but it finally felt like a proper church Christmas.

And then Santa showed up. I kid you not. At the back of the church. And as he made his way to the front he was handing out candy canes. The kids went crazy (it was a surprise) and bum rushed him. Santa’s hat came off. I was sure his true identity was going to be exposed. He had a brown mustache under his white beard for goodness sakes! We live in Hollywood…continuity, people!!

The silver lining is the kids seemed to sort of enjoy themselves. And the parents ate it up. But if my kid is going to be standing up there dressed like an angel, I want him or her to be singing about them. Or at least mouthing the word “watermelon” over and over.

The other cool thing was that one of the mom’s in M’s class invited me to sit with her family. And when I say family I mean her 15 month old daughter and almost six-month old twins. Luckily she had met the right stranger and toddlers really love Blackberries.

I do have to say, tho…next time I will do a little more research. If I don’t know any of the kids involved, I at least want some pageantry! You don’t have to bring Mary in on a live donkey, but I want a chorus of kids singing. And I want them to be singing about Baby Jesus. Especially if I’m in a church.

Note: I took random videos and pictures and things but was reminded that you can’t put pictures of kids that aren’t yours up on the internet. Which explains why the ones I’ve chosen are (hopefully) not identifiable.

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