Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Things I Learned from the Christmas Play

Ack! Our Christmas musical hits the stage on Saturday. This is how I felt at our last rehearsal.

Some years ago I undertook to produce a musical at our church for Christmas. Once Upon a Christmas, based on a story by Tolstoy, tells of Martin the Cobbler who endures ridicule from his wife and neighbours by insisting that Christ will visit Martin’s humble home on Christmas Eve. He receives three visitors but is greatly disappointed that none of them is Christ until he realized "in as much as ye have done it to the least of these, ye have done it unto me."

I believed this play was a one time thing. I was wrong. As soon as production closed, the children asked "What are we doing next year?"

Why the Chimes Rang, came from a tale about marvellous cathedral bells which have fallen silent, waiting for a wondrous gift to set them pealing again. Each year at Christmas the folk of the place bring their best offerings – furs, jewels, cakes, toys. The king even presents his crown, but the bells will not ring. Then, one year, two children from the mountains set off for the cathedral. They carry with them a single coin that they’d worked all year to earn. Along the way they come upon an old woman in distress. One child stays with the stricken woman and sends the other on to the cathedral with the coin. This gift of sacrifice releases the bells from their long silence and their music peals across the valley and up into the mountain pass where the child and the woman listen.

I thought by now I was done with the Christmas play, but again the children as "What are we doing next year?"

Since I've now exhausted my supply of published plays, I've taken to writing my own material. This year the play is about a church preparing for the "perfect" Christmas eve service. The people are so busy with their preparations that they haven't time for an old man fallen on hard times, or a runaway child, or a mysterious traveller. When a storm takes out the electric power they learn that the coming of the Light of the World is not on dependent upon their "perfect" plans.

I’d love to hear from readers about other tales that reflect on the meaning of Christmas. (We leave the birth in Bethlehem story for the Sunday School pageant). I’ll even offer a reward. Send me a Christmas fable, along with your written out e-mail address, and I’ll send you a tree ornament, hand crafted in Canada. Winner to be announced on Jan. 6, 2010

Meanwhile, I share with you what I’ve learned from the Christmas play this year.

1. Children have amazing memories – give them an instruction once and, even when they appear not to be listening, they retain the information and will call you on it if you subsequently give conflicting direction.

2. Adults don’t remember anything and must have directions repeated over and over.

3. Children are logical. Any attempt to gloss over a plot weakness will be subjected to rigorous cross-examination.

4. Adults barely read the plot.

5. Children are literal. Miracles leave them demanding an explanation
6. Adults believe in miracles. How else could they survive childhood?

7. Children love playing dress up. They want to know every detail of their costumes before learning the songs.

8, Adults hate giving up their jeans. They find other excuses to avoid learning their songs.

9. Children can be bribed with cookies.

10. Adults are all on a diet. They can still be bribed with cookies.

11. Adults must juggle car pooling, school schedules, volunteer activities, family responsibilities and jobs. I’m so grateful that they lend their children and their talent to the Christmas Play.

12. Children’s smiles and sparkling eyes give a glimpse of heaven. No wonder God chose a child in a manger to declare His boundless love for us.

Wishing you all a Christmas filled with child-like wonder and lots of cookies.

Little girl eating


  1. I enjoyed your list of comparisons, Alice. So true!

  2. You won't believe it. The show isn't even on stage yet and this morning one of the Mom's said to me, "I think I'll just do costumes NEXT YEAR!"

  3. Alice, your Christmas plays sound great and I'm not surprised people are talking to you about next year :-)

  4. Thanks, Narelle. The last rehearsal went really well so I'm wearing my happy face now :)