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The Holiday Pageant: On Putting on Christmas

bokeh tea


Oh. Hello!  You caught Betty in the middle of planning this year's Christmas pageant.  It's the thing that most of us do this time of year. Every. Year.  We put on a show for our families, and we hope for a sold-out! Standing-room-only! Blockbuster! Feel-good hit of the season! #1 hit! performance. 

We swear it's like a one-woman Broadway production in our very own homes.  All the elements of the theater apply: 

Lights? Oh yes. And better check that the ones you have now are working, because by the time that you find you need another string, the only ones left will be bright orange flashers, and we're pretty sure the Historical Commission knocks on your door if you display those bad boys.

Sets? Of course. Not just the gracious backdrop of cleverly draped roping and ribbon, festive wreath, and a perfectly conical tree. But the scents: cinnamon-orange, Frasier Fir, bayberry and clove. We need a stage for this show Betty, and it is gonna be pine-scented.

Concessions?  Wouldn't be the holidays without them. Thumbprint cookies, shortbread, tea cakes, holiday bread….we're buying butter by the caseload. The things we never, ever need the other 11 months of the year {cream of tartar, powdered egg whites, cardamom} have languished in our cupboards and we're in the pantry, standing on a step stool, flashlight in hand fishing them out. 

Program?  Blurg!  The dreaded holiday card. Whether you have yours streamlined to just printing out an address label {well done you!} or lovingly write out each one, it's a fantastic, stupendous, momentous accomplishment when they're done.  One Betty gets hers out in time for the holidays, the other sends hers for Martin Luther King Day with absolutely no remorse. January is sorely lacking in celebrations, so there. Happy MLK!

Props?  Absolutely. There's a whole tub of set decorations to drag from the attic. Ours consist of charming, time-worn, and well cared-for glitter macaroni garland, clothespin reindeers, cotton ball snowmen, and pine cone elves. They're products of years of school craft projects. We tear-up every time they come out of the box. Accompanying these treasures is a stack of photos, a historical timeline of snaps with Santa.  They start in the toddler years with all the children flat out wailing, eyes red and swollen. Then they segue to photos portraying the bewildered looks on their little faces "why are you putting me on this old man's lap? What ever happened to all the "dangerous stranger" lectures? Finally, when the kids are in on the "sure, Santa is real" charade, they just look resigned, dressed in their preppy finest. It's a pictorial history of fake-Santa fear and loathing. 

It's joyful and anxiety provoking, creative and stressful, festive and frustrating.  We'll go at it with a calendar and long to do list, but try not to treat the holidays like a task. We're going to try to find the grace in the small everyday moments {they usually involve chocolate}. Then we're going to open the curtain, because this show must go on...