Friday, December 15, 2006

The Best Christmas (Pageant) Ever

I finished reading the book The Best Christmas Pageant Ever to my class today. Sixth graders, remember, with the beginnings of middle-school angst, 'cool' attitude, and a lot of excess pre-holiday energy. If you've never read it, the book tells the story of a standard church pageant disrupted by a rowdy family of kids who don't know the Christmas story, much less understand the etiquette of a church play. They turn up for Sunday School at first because they hear a rumor that there's free food to be had.
Through the turmoil of casting, rehearsing, and the disaster of dress rehearsal, the nasty Herdman kids keep everyone on their toes. They bully their way into the main roles. They resist the status quo, asking questions like, "Who is this Herod guy, anyway?"
Eventually, the pageant goes on. It's not your typical Christmas show. 'Mary' burps the baby loudly, the shepherds are truly afraid of the Angel (she's beaten most of them up on occasion), and the Wise Men offer a ham from the family's donation basket instead of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But when all is said and done, there's a feeling of calm, an overall realization that maybe it really was like this was for the Holy Family. Maybe the glorified paintings and perfect-hair Marys weren't as realistic as this one, the rowdy girl with a black eye saying, "Hey! Get your hands off the baby!"
A girl in my class came up to me at recess this morning right after I finished the book. She said very thoughtfully, "You know, I think that pageant was exactly right. It wasn't fancy, it wasn't fake, and the kids in it really had a chance to think about and understand the story. All Christmas pageants should be like that."
I had a lump in my throat. This young woman is barely 11 years old, rather spacey and forgetful, and has been quite sad lately with friendships gone awry. Yet somehow, with this book, she felt touched, moved, even calm. She seemed ready to face recess and her friends again, despite the turmoil around her. Somehow, after talking to her, I could no longer play the Grinch. I couldn't feel any Humbug, either.
Thanks, kiddo. You made my day. I hope I contributed in some positive way to yours.

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Blogger Mocha said...

Well, hello my sister in teaching. This is just the kind of thing I write about from the happenings of my days in school. And thank you for the comment. It led me here.

So the kiddos, the classrooms, and the coffee. What else do we have in common?

12/16/2006 9:11 PM  

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