13 days: Come they told me
For the last month and a half, I have been volunteering in my church with another mom and the Girl Awesome to direct the children’s Christmas pageant. Herding cats is a term someone used when I told them I couldn’t do something because of our dress rehearsal today. There may be some truth to that, but I LOVE this job. I will say that we are definitely not dealing with the Herdman’s (as in the book, The Worst Best Christmas Pageant Ever), and believe me, I am thanking God for that every chance I get.
On Friday, I received a very sweet call from our youth pastor (who also serves as our music coordinator). He wanted to make sure that what he set up for worship (think: mics and stands) would not interfere with my pint-sized actors. I assured him that we were flexible as a troupe, and no matter what the show would go on!
I confess I had to learn that the hard way. The tone of his voice revealed that he was a little perplexed. To clear up the confusion, I shared that I could write a book on all the things that could go wrong. For many years, the pageant was co-directed by one of my best friends and me. Our very first pageant was definitely the one that broke in rookies like us.
Our church’s tradition is to have an advent reading (replete with the lighting of candles) at the beginning of the service during the season. As we waited in the foyer for the performance time, we were completely oblivious to the miracle known as the best pyrotechnic show on earth waiting at the altar for us. On cue, we entered with our kiddos. We were so proud. Remember pride goes before the fall. We had worked for months on sets, costumes, lines, and now was our big moment to shine. And SHINE we did! During our first song, one of our preschoolers (who I swear his parents fed him sugary cereal that morning) smacked the column holding the lit advent wreath.
Y’all the whole church gasped collectively, holding their breath while watching in what appeared to be moving in slow motion the lit wreath flip over and over, complete with a somersault over the organ. Thankfully the organist had already taken a pew seat. At that moment, my friend and I mouthed, “Ohhhhhhhh nooooo!” Both thinking there must be a special place for women who were responsible for burning down the church. In what could only have been God’s divine intervention, the flames suddenly extinguished themselves right before the wreath hit the carpeted floor. I was scarred forever and now have a personal rider in my volunteer contract that states all advent candles WILL BE BLOWN OUT BEFORE MY CHILDREN TAKE THE STAGE.
Lest you think that was the worst of it. It was not. Our church service is broadcast on the local access channel. Thank the good Lord it is not syndicated. Otherwise, one year we might have been confused with a Las Vegas wedding chapel. Even if everything in the world went wrong, the parents and the grandparents cheer for the performers much like the parents in “The Music Man” musical. The uproarious applause drowned out the live mic left in the hands of one of our middle school kings. While taking their bows, this young man was doing his best Elvis impersonation saying, “Thank yaaaa!. Thank ya very muuuch!” He was the king bearing frankincense not the King of Rock and Roll. Imagine my surprise when I decided to tune into the broadcast and heard his interesting ending to our performance.
But I think the most memorable was the one we included some adults in the program. In addition to directing, I sang a duet with my son, Reed. While we were singing our song, one of little angels (in costume not in behavior that day) got a little too much in the spirit. He started a-wiggling and a-jiggling. I could sense some movement behind me, and the next thing you know, all I could hear was a big kerplunk, followed by tear inducing laughter. A quick glance over my left shoulder revealed that our little angel had fallen off the raised altar area and was wedged upside down between said altar and the piano. All I saw were his little legs frantically trying to help him break free which only made matters worse. Meanwhile back at the mic, I was faced with the moral dilemma of do I keep singing or rescue this kid. I saw his dad making a beeline to the piano; so, I did what any professional would do. I kept singing. Not my proudest moment, but like I said, the show must go on.
After hearing a couple of my stories, the sweet pastor said. “You know those are the parts the audience loves the most, right.” I assured him I knew that to be the case which has made the job much better over the years. I am going to bed tonight knowing something can and will go wrong tomorrow. I will be laughing right along with everyone else, soaking in the memories we will hold most dear.
But if that involves fire trucks, I may be retiring.