The Best Christmas Pageant Ever


In parochial schools and Sunday school classes people are already planning, casting, and rehearsing the Christmas pageant. It is always fraught with unexpected opportunities for surprise, even disaster… ask me how I know!

The most memorable disaster I recall occurred, not in a classroom, but in the crowded recreation room of a small residential facility for developmentally delayed adults. We were there because my brother was a resident. He had finally learned to play, with one finger, a small electric keyboard and was part of the show!

We had already heard him rehearse, many times, his morbidly s l o w version of Silent Night, but he decided that he would NOT play anything except Happy Birthday because the residents had been told that they were having a birthday party for Baby Jesus. When the pageant started, Mary was the last to come in. She arrived carrying a naked cabbage patch kid upside down by one leg. She also complained in a loud voice that she was so nervous she was going to puke. And she did… but not until after Joseph pushed her unceremoniously off the make shift stage and out into the hall!

When I first read Barbara Robinson’s book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, it made me laugh and cry. And the second time, and the third. To-day the movie had the same effect.

The story reminds me of some hard truths about how we behave and what we believe. I have taught kids like the Herdmans as well as the socially proper little snobs who despise them … there are some of both in every school, in every class. All the characters are stereotypes… but drawn with a gentle understanding of who we are.

The story also reminds me of my Christmas losses. Did you read my blog yesterday? What disillusion and disappointment!

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