Every year, one of my biggest delights is directing the children's Christmas program at our church. This year, we had 42 children from 1st thru 6th grade practicing for our Christmas program...I stress to the kids and the parents that I don't want the children in the program if they don't want to be in it...it's a fun thing for them to do, and probably 50% of the Sunday School kids are in it. I also let them decide if they want to have a speaking part or solo...often, parents decide what they want their child to do...and the kid is miserable. We usually have several kids surprise their parents on program night, when Mom and Dad didn't know their child was playing a character or singing a solo. That's always a fun thing!
This year, our program was an old favorite -- it had been performed in 1990 and again in 1999 -- but it's a great program, and hopefully no one minded seeing it again (with many of the kids who weren't even born last time it was performed!). "The Case of the Missing Christmas" is about four children who discover that Baby Jesus is missing from the church's nativity set and came to the conclusion that He was -- gasp! -- stolen! Things quickly snowball into a crisis as the children realize we can't have Christmas without Jesus and just don't understand why the church librarian doesn't seem to care that such a "priceless antique" is missing. There is some speculation that maybe SHE stole the baby, but as various people are interviewed, it becomes pretty clear that perhaps Baby Jesus wasn't stolen...just misplaced. Soon, one of the children realizes that the missing baby isn't the REAL Jesus and that even without the fine, imported porcelain figurine, Christmas does go on because that is just a symbol; the REAL Jesus isn't missing or stolen; He is in our hearts. Eventually, the missing baby is found buried in an old box of Christmas decorations, to everyone's relief, but by that time, everyone also realizes it doesn't honestly matter if the symbolic baby is found or not.
There are some great one liners. There are lots of lines that were waaay over the kids' heads, like when the detective was called out on a 493, Persian triplets accused of impersonating wise men. That, to me, was one of the funniest lines of all.
We had our share of problems this year...one of my main characters didn't know his lines even up to the day before the schedule performance...but it was okay. The program was delayed a week because of weather. However, that caused another problem as one of my other main characters wouldn't be there....she and her brother (also in the program with a brief solo) were out of town. Quick call to a young teen friend who does drama...she agreed to cram in the role and have the part learned in a week! However, our pianist, my dear friend Jane, wouldn't be at the last dress rehearsal due to another commitment to the community choir performances. That's okay, she stayed to record the accompaniment for our final practice. But....it worked out okay. See, the program was delayed ANOTHER week because of weather. Pastor Marty gave me the choice of having it either December 28 or January 4; and this time we'd hold it during one of the morning services so we wouldn't have to worry about night time travel during bad weather. Thankfully, I scheduled the performance for December 28 (we had really bad weather again this past weekend and the program would've been doubtful had it been scheduled for yesterday!). We crammed in a "parts" practice during first service on December 28 followed by a "song" practice during Sunday School without ever having a full practice for two weeks before performing during second service (did ya follow that?). I walked in for the first practice only to be asked to call a parent. Yikes! I lost another character due to illness! And the day before a grandma called that the brother of another soloist was in the hospital, so I had to find someone to cover her. Race around trying to find someone capable of learning lines in less than two hours -- well, someone who could learn lines AND was willing to do so! Thank God (literally) for Sean Polley. He told me he'd do it if I couldn't find anyone else...and that's a whole other story! He did fill in (he's the tall kid in the photos), and he did a great job. I did end up missing seven of the kids who practiced for two months that day.
See, that day was also Sean's birthday and he had NO intention of even staying for the program, despite his mother telling him he should since the teen filling in for my traveling character was his sister. Nope, Sean wanted to get ready for his birthday party. His family had a big laugh at God's humor that day! I'm also so very thankful that Sean was willing to do this role, even though he had "better" things to do.
And despite all the problems leading up to our Christmas program, the kids did great. I'm amazed at the people who tell me I did such a great job. It wasn't me. It wasn't the kids. It wasn't my assistants. After everything that had happened, it was even further proof to me that GOD brought this together for HIS glory and honor. And you know what? I'm thinking He was pleased with it all.
The Baby is Found!!!
Following are some photos from the soloists, special musicians, and actors. Lael (the little girl in the jumper) amazed everyone when she had her very big part memorized perfectly in just a couple weeks. Bruce (in the rocking chair) also amazed everyone because he had sooo many lines and had them down pat. Bria (in the green with the mic) blew everyone away with her gorgeous solo. Sean gave everyone a huge laugh when he walked out on stage, about twice as tall as everyone else in the program! Jenna learned her huge part in less than a week and did a fantastic job at it. Sid, fresh off his acting performance in the Cantata, did another great performance as Detective Joe Thursday. Elizabeth was a convincing "old lady." Every single child, whether in the choir or with a part, did wonderful. And I'm looking forward to another program in just 11 more months!
Below are a bunch of miscellaneous photos of the program kids...just the expressions on faces crack me up. Hope you get as big of a delightful laugh as I do every time I look at them (especially Sarah in the plaid dress).