Sunday, December 19, 2010

holiday cheer

When I say the words 'holiday cheer,' what images come to mind?

Do they include dancing angels, animated stars, and an auditorium full of tubas? If so, then you just pictured the highlights from our weekend.

For starters, one of the girls in my junior high group at church sang in her school's winter choral performance, wearing matching black & white attire, made complete with a pair of sassy black boots. The music was mostly traditional with a splash of sea shanty (thanks to the boys' choir), and a retelling of Santa coming down the chimney by a pajama-clad choir of eighth graders.

It all gave me happy flashbacks to my younger ensemble days:

Melanie 'embrace the pink' Gardiner, Rodney Good & his son RJ, along with 495 other musicians from across the state, performed in 'Tuba Christmas': a festive tuba concert/sing-a-long made popular in 1974 as a tribute to the late artist/teacher, William J. Bell. I closed my eyes during the first song, hoping to soak in that unique low brass sound:

The conductor's name is Tucker Jolly (I know, right?), and I just so happened to find a video on YouTube from yesterday's performance. Yes, the players dressed up their instruments in tinsel & twinkle lights, and it's tradition for the audience to shake bells and rattle keys during the song, 'Jingle Bells.' I don't remember if it was after this carol or the next when I shouted "Tuba Forever!"

It seemed appropriate at the time.

Then there was the dance show, displaying the talents of young people from a private dance company called 'Praise His Name with Dancing (including another one of my junior high girls).' This production was long and colorful and included almost every style of dance:

The angels were lovely with their billowing sleeves and pointe shoes, and the little ones they brought up from the audience during intermission were as precious as you would imagine them to be, even if they had a hard time focusing on their direction:

Today, we were involved with the Christmas play at our church called 'Star of Wonder.' I could write an entire blog post about this production, as it reminded me of that story by Barbara Robinson called 'The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.'

Well, not the play itself, but the preparation for the play.

Minus the Herdmans.

This morning I arrived early to the church, at the request of my friend Lisa who was one of the make-up artists for the show. I told her I was better at moral support than I was make-up, but that I would gladly come to help out. I ended up shadowing one of the directors and became her wardrobe assistant for both services.

True to form, the kids arrived with unapologetic energy and an eagerness to perform. They had their make-up applied first, then we dressed them, applied accessories with safety pins & bobby pins, and then tried (with futility) to keep them all quiet behind the door leading to the sanctuary. It was a controlled chaos that made me want and never want children of my own.

The camels were elaborately painted cardboard cut-outs, the baby Jesus was a Cabbage Patch doll, Joseph was played by a boy who also played a shepherd, and the sheep were cutely dressed preschoolers with black paint for noses, rosy red cheeks made of rouge, and fluffy sheep costumes. Even with one sheep having a meltdown (on account of nerves), one of the lead characters fighting a stomach flu, and another one losing a tooth minutes before the second performance, the show went on.. and was a success.

© photo credit:

My two favorite moments happened when 1.) Joseph/Shepherd told me in a forced whisper (as I was helping him with his costume change behind the stage curtain), 'I am so excited I could scream!,' and 2.) before the show, in response to Joseph teasing her about being 'married' to him, the young girl who played Mary replied to him saying, 'no I'm not, we're just actors.'

I have to say, this darling girl who played the role of Jesus' mother did so with such reverence. Her costume required the most pinning (in an attempt to make her head covering look flow-y and *Madonna-like without falling off). She experienced the most poking and prodding and, the entire time she was being adjusted, she was very serious and held the baby 'Jesus' as if he were real. She even mentioned to me that "Mary was 13, or almost 13, when she had Jesus and I'm 10, which is pretty close." I smiled then, feeling like we had shared an insightful look in to the birth of our Lord and Savior. A tender moment.

After I affirmed her statement, I asked her if she was ready to be a mom. The look she gave me was priceless. It was part disgust and part disdain and was accompanied by a curt, 'no.'

Good choice, dear one.

*(art not entertainer)

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