Thank God for Christmas programs, those yearly celebrations of creativity and public performance. No, I didn't say Christmas "pageants," which I think of as featuring only The Story of Christmas, Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the innkeeper, the angels, the Magi and the Shepherds. I like that too, but more than that I revel in the unique offerings of everyone from the cradle class to the adults, who memorize, sing, read, and dazzle, if not necessarily with their brilliance, then most certainly with their zeal and good will.
I don't know how I forget it from year to year, only to be reminded again that I love to see the tiny ones stare petrified into the faces of the expectant crowd. I love it when they get their "recitation" out and perhaps even more when they remain speechless and we applaud anyway. We're just glad to see them. Like Almighty God's declaration at Jesus' baptism, we proclaim them beloved and say that we are pleased with our children before they do a single remarkable or miraculous thing.
I love the Christmas skits, the dramatic renderings of The Original Story and the not-so-subtle reminders of the meaning of for our contemporary times. I love the poems and the plays, the readings famous and not so much. i love the apples and the oranges, the Christmas candy and the red-and-white striped candy canes.
I love Christmas carols and sing them with exuberance, always bobbing my head and tempted to clap my hands even during the slow songs. I love them even when they're hard to sing and difficult for the musicians to play because we sing them so infrequently. And then there are the crowd favorites, "O Come all Ye Faithful", "Joy to the World," and "Silent Night." We're all moved both to dance and to cry.
Every year I struggle with the temptation to boycott Christmas and all its kitschy commercialism. But if I did, I'd miss the beauty of the Christmas Eve candlelight service and the church school-sponsored Christmas program. That would be in inestimable loss. Thanks, God and PFAC, for the reminder.