December 2017

Christmas Stories


Nativity plays in schools and preschools are an interesting phenomenon. Over the years I’ve attended quite a few and I’m (almost!) always impressed by the hard work and enthusiasm of staff and children in putting on the ‘production’. And they are, almost without exception, thoroughly enjoyable occasions.

When Sebastian was quite a bit smaller he had one of the lead roles in the school’s Christmas play, as Penguin Pete. As I remember it, this penguin undertook an arduous journey from the South Pole, where he lived, to visit the North Pole to find Santa. Along the way he met various characters accompanied by numerous songs and the talents of the children with recorders and xylophones were showcased. I can’t remember the point of Penguin Pete visiting Father Christmas – I’m sure some terribly important question was answered by the man in the red suit.

And then, after almost an hour’s performance, to the melody of ‘Silent night’ on piano, in shuffled the reception class, 4 year olds with eyes wide as deer in headlights. All the girls were dressed as angels, all the boys as shepherds, and there was a Mary and Joseph. A reduced story of the journey to Bethlehem and the shepherds arriving was read. Another carol, ‘Away in a Manger’. Up stood the Head Teacher to thank everyone, lots of applause, instructions of how to collect the correct child, and we were wished a happy Christmas. What a wonderful evening, didn’t the children and the school do well….

It was only later as I gazed at a slightly out of focus photo of my little Penguin Pete wondering if he could be soon up for an Oscar, that the proportions of the evening’s entertainment became clear. About 55 minutes for the Penguin Pete Story, about 5 minutes Nativity Story, 5 minutes of thank you’s and another 5 minutes of child collection instructions. And I wonder if that is a fair description of the Christmas festivities for us.

I know there is a lot to do and get done. Much of it is good and proper. But how often are Christmas activities so full of events and tasks that any reflection on the story of God coming to earth and bringing peace, gets sandwiched in at the end before the Thank you’s and last-minute organisation.

Many your Christmas be blessed. May you discover peace on earth and goodwill to all. And may it become the central part of your Christmas production rather than tacked on somewhere towards the end.


December 2017