Of all the Christmas traditions that come around this month, one of our favorites was always the Christmas pageant at the church.
One year, all of our kids got a part. Our eldest got the coveted roll of Herod, a major speaking part, his brother found solace as a shepherd, one line only but to be delivered with gusto, while his twin sister got to be Mary, an apt role for the long-suffering older sister in our family. The youngest set of twins and their pal Evan were the three kings, and though their speeches were short, they did get to wear handsome bathrobes and crowns. Erica, the youngest was relegated to the rhythm section. Yes, our pageant that year had a rhythm section, deemed necessary to keep the show moving along.
The show began with the aforementioned rhythm section striking up a lively cord of “Here comes the king, Here comes the king!” as Herod made his kingly way down the aisle wearing an aptly coloured purple bathrobe someone had donated. Herod, being the narrator in this version of the story, read the account of the birth of Jesus. When it came to the part when the angel announced the miraculous birth, a host (four) of angels suddenly sprang up from their hiding place. This was the rhythm section’s big number and they, along with the angels, launched into the lovely carol, The First Noel.
When it became the patiently awaiting shepherds turn, our number two son led the charge. More like a commander to his men than a gentle shepherd beckoning, he belted out, “Look! A star! Let’s go see where it leads, men!” Scrambling down enthusiastically, all three shepherds managed to squash some little sheep and two small angels. Their fearless leader later explained the fracas that ensued, “They were in the way mom.”
Once bedlam on stage subsided with only a few torn wings and lost fluffy ears, it was the kings’ turn to bring their offerings. They managed to present the gold and myrrh, but somehow Frankenstein was put on offer. The baby didn’t mind (it was a well swaddled dolly) but Mary seemed a bit put out, especially when Joseph started to snort with barely contained laughter. Mary did a fine job of disguising her look of annoyance with a roll of the eyes and a tired stoop of the shoulders, which was how she usually looked at home when, as usual, her younger siblings were acting up. It was then that the rhythm section lit up with a rather timely “Poor tired Mary, Poor tired Mary.”
When it was over and the cast retreated back down the aisle. The spring in their step was part show-after-glow and part anticipation for their promised bags of candy; rewards for a job well done. Well, done.
Our shepherd, still aglow with the aftermath of his articulately delivered one line, took it upon himself to admonish the rhythm section. “You guys were awful. It shouldn’t have been ‘Poor tired Mary, Poor tired Mary’, it shoulda been ‘Poor tired rhythm section, Poor tired rhythm section”.
After sorting out the scuffle that ensued upon that unwelcomed critique, it shoulda been “Poor tired mom, Poor tired mom”. At the very least, our parishioners loved it. They always do.