Over the past week and a half, I have been helping my 2nd grade son Alex prepare for his stage debut. He won a choice role in a school production that featured him as one of the Three Kings who refuses to get on a "lumpy old camel".
When I first sat down with him last week, I was surprised to discover that most of his dialogue was burned into his memory. We worked on a few lines, worked a couple of gestures, and voila! A star was born.
My first grade daughter Maggie was also in the play - as a member of the chorus. She sang songs to the both of us and it was a genuine kick to hear both of them sing Christmas songs around the house.
It all came down to last night when they took the stage for the first time:
The play began at 6:30 PM but my family and I arrived at 5:45 to secure good seats. When we arrived, we had found squatters already taking up much of the first several rows of the gym. By 6:15, it looked like the deck of the Titanic with people scrambling around for any available seat.
Not to be outdone, my three year old daughter Josie wanted to get into the act. So this is why this picture is here but come on, ain't she cute? Her personality is really sharpening into focus as she is maturing into a beautiful little girl (with flashes of hellcat).
At 6:30 PM, the chorus were led into the gym. This prompted every mom, dad, grandmother, cousin, niece, nephew, and teacher to grab their digital cameras and cell phone cameras. Hollywood premieres seldom have this many pictures taken.
Ten minutes later, the featured performers were walked into the gym - this was the first time I saw Alex's finished costume:
Props to Jenny Andorfer and Monica Zwick - the costumers of the play! I looked over at my mother-in-law and she had tears in her eyes. Alex even walked regal. I was thanking the patron saint of theater for the great seats.
The play began with some original songs about shooting stars. Four other kids dressed as shooting stars took the stage and asked "General Comet Powell" about the story of the Nativity. Through song and corny jokes, the greatest story ever told was delivered.
Throughout the play, Maggie was stationed at the back of one section of kids (it helps being a tall kid). Occasionally we made eye contact and she flashed her winning smile and the small finger wave. As for the other kids, look at the kid directly in front of Maggie - pictures do say 1000 words.
Alex's point in the play finally came and he delivered his lines perfectly and humorously. He refuses to cross the desert via camel and a song is sung by the entire cast demanding him to "get on that camel":
I'm not sure what is funnier - the chorus of shooting stars pointing toward the camel, one of the three kings trying to push Alex onto the camel, or Alex standing firm with arms outstretched and refusing to ride. Needless to say, I was one of the people in the audience leading the guffaws.
After the camel complains about the "carry-on" baggage, the Third King finally relents and decides to get aboard the camel. "One lump or two?" asks the camel. Blackout. Scene change. Much applause.
To paraphrase Linus from "A Charlie Brown Christmas", this is what Christmas is all about.
One more shopping weekend to go. A hundred presents need to be wrapped at our household (and yours too probably). People will be driving everywhere this weekend - stay safe.
There is a MAJOR surprise coming on Christmas Day here at the yuleblog. No fair peeking under the tree on this one! Stay tuned...