Saturday, December 13, 2014

You know Jesus was laughing!



 If a smile can stretch a mile, and laughter is good for the soul, then my grand childrens' Christmas pageant will go down in history as one that warmed the hearts and tickled the souls of young and old alike in a little, rural Missouri church, in December, 2000.

Song writers claim that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but it doesn’t always feel that way when lines are long, tempers are short and money is tight. The holiday hustle and bustle can certainly take its toll on young and old alike, but children have a way of bringing people together.  In the midst of this high-stress season, the sight of preschoolers garbed as tiny angels with shiny halos can make the orneriest Scrooge smile.

The Sunday School kids were assigned specific roles and had been practicing for weeks for the Nativity pageant. My eleven year old granddaughter's striped shepherd's costume hung from a hook on her door,  and when I came to visit, she babbled on and on about her role and the "big cane" she would carry.

The toddlers and preschoolers would be dressed as angels. Three year old Austin's tiny white gown and silver garland halo hung on the back of his door for two weeks. When I told him that I couldn’t wait to see him dressed as an angel, he put his little hands on his hips and insisted, 'I'm not wearing no dress! I'm a super hero.' 

"Oh he'll be fine," my daughter assured me.

On that cold, snowy night, the church pews were filled to capacity.  I arrived at the old country church with camera in hand, anxious to take pictures of my little angel, but the little dickens chickened out at the last moment. He sat in the pew, a big mama's boy snuggled under my daughter’s arm. When the organist played Silent Night, the congregation turned and gazed at the children as they entered the sanctuary. It was a very solemn, humbling moment.

Parents beamed proudly as the cutest little angels you've ever seen toddled down the center aisle, walked up three steps and took their places on either side of the altar looking directly at the pastor beaming proudly at his flock. A wise Sunday school teacher positioned the toddlers with their backs to the audience, knowing that  if they saw their parents they would act out. Two of the older children entered dressed as Mary and Joseph. They walked side by side. She wore a regal blue gown and he wore his father’s brown robe belted with a length of rope. They walked to the front and stood on either side of a wooden manger as the Sunday school teacher narrated the Christmas story.

"And on that night in a stable in Bethlehem,  Baby Jesus was born. They wrapped him up in swaddling clothes." She paused and waited as "Mary" haphazardly wrapped a nude doll in a dish towel and handed him to "Joseph" an over grown, embarrassed, and reluctant thirteen year old who didn't want to be caught dead holding a doll even if it was the baby Jesus.  He held the doll at arm's length as if it had cooties. People snickered, but the teacher continued.     

"And they laid the Christ child in the manger." Joseph didn’t take his cue. She cleared her throat, "Ahem!"  Joseph was lost in thought, probably wondering how badly he’d be teased in school. After a second throat clearing the woman hissed at him, "Put the baby in the manger!" Startled, he threw the doll, and it clunked into the box. The director of Christian Education, a seasoned woman, leaned over and whispered to the narrator who was wearing a microphone, "Great, now someone will call DFCS (Department of Family and Children's Services) and report us." Her voice resounded through the overhead speakers, which made the congregation cackle. Her face lit up like the Christmas tree lights.

The narrator continued, "Out in the fields, the angel spoke to the shepherds tending their sheep."  My granddaughter led the procession as she and her classmates, dressed in flowing robes, their heads wrapped in scarves, entered carrying wooden staffs and cardboard sheep. When Austin spied his sister, he shouted excitedly, "Mom! Look, here comes Ashley and she’s a German Shepherd!"

 As the laughter again died down, six shepherds and the three kings bearing gifts, paused in front of the pastor at the pulpit. He opened the Bible to read scripture, and before he completed the first verse, the littlest angel, a two year old with red ringlets cascading down her back, wearing a cock-eyed halo, turned around, extended her arms and offered the flock an impromptu and unexpected greeting. She mimicked a commercial and shouted, "I love ya, man!" Then she laughed out loud. She backed up, tripped on her gown and tumbled down the three steps onto the carpet. The pastor nearly collided with the Sunday school teacher and organist. They repositioned the little darling who'd upstaged everyone. As the flustered pastor shook his head and rolled his eyes, I'm sure the angels in heaven were having a rollicking good laugh. Mary knew what those women were going through, and God in all his glory was wiping happy tears from his eyes giving a thumbs up to one of the most humorous and memorable Christmas pageants of all time.

13 comments:

Sioux said...

Too bad you didn't videotape it. It would have gone viral.

Thanks for the chuckle, Linda.

tracboy2 said...

Wow! That sure took me back. Good memories of when my daughter & son were little. Those sure were the days.

Tammy said...

I'm sure those things happen from time to time, but the way you told it had me laughing until tears ran down my face. Especially the part about the tossed, cootie-Jesus.

K9friend said...

Gotta love a children's Christmas play. Anything can (and frequently does) happen.

Pat
Critter Alley

Bookie said...

Ya just never know where it will go when do one of these Christmas plays!!! I'm glad everyone saw the humor in it.

Mevely317 said...

Laughing.Out.Loud over here!

You know, Art Linkletter had it right when he said, "Kids Say the Darndest Things"! Thanks for keeping old Art's tradition alive and well!

Val said...

Heh, heh. German Shepherd!

Lisa Claro said...

Oh, I miss those days with my little ones! I loved those pageants. *sigh*

Debra Mayhew said...

Hahahaa! I can see all of this so clearly, Linda. I enjoyed taking a little break from my holiday hustle and bustle to put my feet up and visit your blog!

Karen Lange said...

I agree, kids have a way of helping us regain focus and a better perspective. Thanks for sharing this with us! :)

Lynn said...

You are so funny! This would make a great article for some place...

Your granddaughter is cute as a button as is your great grandson.

And your car door locks - you're a hoot!

Mary Horner said...

This was too funny! I laughed out loud when I got to the part about the German Shepherd!

Daisy said...

Oh my gosh. This is so adorable. Sounds like it was a wonderful production. :)