A Festival of Four Pageants

Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota

“Are you ready for Christmas?” This has been the standard greeting between folks out here lately, replacing “How about those Bison?”, or  What do you think about the weather?”   In my world, being ready for Christmas means that the lefse is made the weekend before Thanksgiving, all the baking and cleaning are done soon after, and the house is decorated by December 1.

This year, none of this happened, and the Tuesday before Christmas my home was not decorated, the presents had not been wrapped, the tree was in a box in the garage, and I hadn’t done much, if any, baking or cleaning. Since the first week of December, husband and I have either attended or participated in four Christmas “pageants” that have taken us away from home and  complicated or enriched our lives, depending on our moods at any given time.

Pageant One was the traditional Concordia Christmas Concert in Moorhead to which we wore our Norwegian sweaters and heard lovely and perfect choral singing.  It didn’t take too much out of us, except that it took us away from home for a weekend and we couldn’t do much Christmas preparation. I managed to bake 12 dozen cookies for a cookie exchange at work, but that was about all I got done.

Pageant Two took place as week later in a much more modest venue on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Here we helped distribute Christmas presents and food to about 500 people at a mission called the Dream Center. We played music with our Native friends and I helped read the Christmas story at the gatherings. I don’t know how relevant they found the story, given that they are struggling with poverty, homelessness, and hunger, but the children loved the gift boxes and the elders loved the gift bags and hams that were given out. This took us away from home for four more days, and no Christmas preparations took place at home.

Pageant Three took place one week after the Pine Ridge trip in the Sodbuster Room at the local Elks Lodge for my agency Christmas party. In addition to being a member of the Social Committee responsible for planning this soiree, I played my bass guitar in our agency  band, and this, of course, meant evening rehearsals that also kept us from making preparations at home.  We played everything from Stephen Foster (Hard Times Come Again No More) to Mavis Staples (I Belong to the Band) to Bachman Turner Overdrive (Taking Care of Business), with a Diana Ross medley somewhere in the middle.

Two days after the party, we played in our church bell choir for both Sunday morning services and at an afternoon Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols service. I was asked by the bell choir director to design the bulletins, and this, of course took me away from Christmas preparations at home.

Well, Christmas is upon us. Our children arrived and they decorated the tree and the house. They helped shop, and planned and will help cook Christmas dinner.  The house is clean enough, and I finally got to sleep past 7:00 a few mornings this week. I am grateful that we are safe and together, and I guess that is the most important thing.

Merry Christmas, Baboons. Now, if I could only get “Stop in the Name of Love” out of my head, I could say that life was almost perfect.

Describe your role in a memorable Christmas pageant.


47 thoughts on “A Festival of Four Pageants”

  1. Merry Christmas to all. I’m sure I must have sang at Christmas in the Cherub Choir at church when I was young. Other than that, I don’t remember participating as a performer in a Christmas pageant. I suppose you could say I have played a role in number Christmas shows as a member of the audience.

    I think the Katey McMahon Christmas show that I attended this year is one of the best holiday shows I have seen. Katey is a very talented singer of Irish music. This year she added Peter Ostruschko as a guest performer. Peter said that he must be Irish because his name is O’struschko. Of course, Peter is a great addition to any show. My son-in-law plays violin in the band backing Katey and was featured on two Irish tunes that he composed. Also, the Irish dancers that were part of the show were outstanding.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I can’t recall being part of a pageant except as an audience member. I think that’s a good role for me and I’ll stick with it.

    Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and if you don’t celebrate it, I hope you at least have a day off from work. I’m playing some Christmas music, and it is accompanied by the oof, oof, oof of the breadmaker as it mixes the dough for the dinner rolls.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. For several seasons I was one if the costumers for Lorie Line’s holiday extravaganza. She’s scaled back, so that was the end of that.

    The last few years I’ve worked on Christmas, so having the last day or so off and all of next week is an adjustment for me. I’ve spent most if my time “cleaning the stable”.

    Back in October, a note appeared in the bulletin that the camel we were borrowing for the children’s program needed to be “reupholstered”. Back in October that sounded like fun and right up my street. By Thanksgiving it was an open question whether madness or hubris had gotten the upper hand.

    He did get done in time and I think turned out very well. Glad I did it, but next time……

    It has been a season of learning about time management and what we truly enjoy. We have great hopes for 2016.

    Merry Christmas, dear Baboons, wherever and however you are spending the day, whatever it may mean to you.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. lorie line had a gathering one weekend about a month ago in a spot next to my business out my lake minnetonka. i was wishing her an unspoken happy holiday over the airwaves. she was good to a mutual friend back in her heyday.
      enjoy the week mig

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I recently posted about being in Christmas pageants. I auditioned by singing for the music director. Having heard me sing, she chose me to be the narrator. I learned the classic Christmas story by telling it to audiences, explaining how baby Jesus was denied a room in all the inns.

    If I were to narrate one last Christmas pageant, I’d tell the story a little differently. I’d say that the baby in the manger is a Syrian refugee who needs a safe place to be a kid.

    Have a lovely day my friends.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. rex harrison of my fair lady and other notable musicals couldnt sing a note so they taught him to talk sing. there isnt a not ein ther but you dont notice because he speaks with such conviction. steve maybe you could learn from rex


  5. As a 6th grader, back in the days when you could actually acknowledge Christmas in school, I was the narrator and got to read the Christmas story. Nearly got tripped up by the word espoused (espo used??) but thankfully was corrected during rehearsal. Today, like HV Steve, I would change the story to reflect the refugee crisis. One of my nieces gave me a wonderful Christmas present – through a blog called Momastery she purchased a baby sling in my name for the Syrian refugees.

    Merry Christmas, however and with whomever you celebrate.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Someone on FB suggested saying “Happy Federal Holiday” as a non-offensive greeting. Since not everyone gets the day off, even that doesn’t work (and, of course, the War on Christmas people will find that more offensive than ever).
    So I wish you a Happy and Peaceful day and Merry Christmas to those-who-celebrate!

    My growing-up church had a tradition for the annual candlelight service (probably the Sunday afternoon nearest to Christmas), a church family was chosen to read the “lessons”.
    The year my family was chosen, my father, ever the thespian, rehearsed us extensively at home and finally in the empty church. We learned to project. My little sister, who could not read, was given a 6, or so, word condensation of one of the lessons to memorize.
    In subsequent years, the performances of other families were disappointing. It was clear that they had not adequately rehearsed.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I was taught in a college oral presentation class that one should rehearse at least two hours for every ten minutes of presentation. Your father must have known that. Good for him.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Renee – thanks for this post, esp. considering its content! Two sentences leap out at me: “I managed to bake 12 dozen cookies for a cookie exchange at work, but that was about all I got done.” 🙂
    and “The house is clean enough”, which will be my mantra this week, after we accomplish a few obvious tasks, before the group from Georgia arrives.

    Many of you have already heard this: I remember being on the carpeted sanctuary steps looking out at the congregation while singing “Away in a Manger” – had to be 3 or 4 years old. Mom says the little kid next to me kept grabbing my arm, and I would just quietly remove his hand and put it back in “his space”, never missing a beat.

    I did get to sing in the choruses of Amahl and the Night Visitors and The Messiah later on…

    Have a great day, baboons, and thanks for being here.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. I was in Christmas pageants as a kid, but never anything memorable. But I was just thinking today that when I directed a community theater production of the Norwegian fairy tale Tatterhood (or Luvrehette), that it is a Christmas eve story complete with a Julebuk (Christmas goat), dancing around the tree and trolls arriving to wreak havoc as I have been told happens in Norway.

    Have a splendid day everyone. I’m off to put a fire in the wood stove to warm the house up before I leave to have dinner somewhere else.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I meant to give a plug to Burgers Smokehouse, a Missouri mail order meat place that donated several hundred large packages of beautiful country style ham to a Baptist Church group that brought them to Pine Ridge. Those were expensive hams and Burgers were more than happy to help out.

      Liked by 5 people

  9. We are cooking slowly all day, making our Christmas dinner and eating leftovers as we go. It is a low stress day here, with reading and napping in between chopping and pie making.

    Liked by 7 people

  10. Just had a stellar Christmas meal with my mom, in the special room for families right off the main dining room, downstairs. When we leave the third floor with Mom, it’s just as good as leaving the building to go “out to eat”, so we really got points for this one. (She’s so pleased when she realizes she doesn’t have to bundle up.)

    Then we did gifts back in her room, and called my sister, her sister, and a sister-in-law. Told one sister (after struggling to hear and trying my cell phone on both ears) – “I’m glad I only have two ears to deal with.”

    I’ll bet she’s exhausted, but she sure had fun.

    Liked by 7 people

  11. Hi Gang–

    I was probably in a few christmas pageants as a kid but none of them stand out.
    Worked a lot of holiday shows as I got older; worked some Lori Line too. (Just local crew; not touring with her or anything).
    I have lit a lot of holiday concerts; some were ‘God Bless the USA it’s Christmas!’ and some were more plain Christmas.
    The six LED lights and two stands I took the the Y last night was probably more appreciated than the bigger fancier shows. It’s all about perspective, right?

    Thank you for the story Renee.
    As BiR said, “12 dozen cookies but that’s all”. Ha! Don’t dismiss that so readily.

    Hope everyone had a nice day. Hope the coming days continue to bring peace, joy and hope.

    Liked by 8 people

  12. Happy Boxing Day, baboons.

    During my years at the boarding school, I was in the annual Christmas pageant each year. Nothing too memorable about it. I liked playing an angel in a long white dress and spray-painted cardboard wings decorated with stars. It certainly beat the heck out of the year when I played a homeless child, in raggedy street clothes, sleeping on a sled. I remember wanting to see what was going on, and would occasionally open an eye to lake a peek, only to be staring straight into the eyes of the parish priest who was sitting in the front row and keeping a close eye on me.

    Liked by 5 people

  13. today is boxing day and only Europeans and people with roots that go there know about it. I first ran across it whe I worked with a Canadian company who I was close with. the Canadians are basically English cousins who exported all the traditions and customs to the great new continent and recolonized. you would think America would have adopted a lot of the brit stuff too but not so much or at least not the same traditions.
    I enjoy the day off. the week between Christmas and new years is an exception week of reflection reassessment and redirection. a fine tuning of the soul is in order. take a minute and close your eyes and think about the what ifs that are out there.
    boxing day is for taking the boxes back to the store and picking up the mess from Christmas. that’s the way I feel about the week after too. take back all the unneeded stuff and clean up the mess with a fresh start possible. here we go. 2016 coming right up.
    Christmas computer gives me caps on those wrds that it should but lets me start sentences lower case. I will figure it out and make it mine before too much longer. my computer and my life

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Happy Boxing Day all! Glad we finally have snow so it looks like winter outside. Mom and a good friend over on Christmas Eve for dinner, then to Mom’s for Christmas Day along with brother and his family. I can’t say that I have Renee’s excuse for our lack of preparation – Christmas tree has only been up for about a week, those cars that went out finally went out on Monday…I got julekage and krumake made (no grease fires this year – yay!) and Daughter helped make both chocolate crinkle cookies and snickerdoodles, all in the last 7 days. House was clean enough. Fire and new jammies have been cozy.

    I was, I’m sure, in Christmas pageants as a kid – though nothing memorable. I recall some kiddie versions of lesson and carols affairs. As a grown-up now I’m on the helping to get them together end at our church (not the director or main organizer – thank heavens – just the odd assist from the sidelines). The Christmas Eve service at our church has, for the last couple of years been set up as “Story Time with Grandma/Aunt/Uncle ____” with a slightly different take/theme/idea each year on how to retell the Christmas story. This year it was my turn as Auntie Anna to tell the story. Kids on a comfy quilt at the front of the church with me in my best footie pajamas (striped sock monkey pjs) with my sidekick Archibald the Sock Monkey to help tell the tale. I must have done something right as the kids weren’t squirrelly at all – except when I needed them to be. 🙂

    Enjoy the quiet of the day.

    Liked by 6 people

  15. Oh dear! I didn’t put out any rice pudding for the julenisse and he came in the night and tied a knot in the drain hose for the dishwasher and I had to get the water out with a bulb baster. At least he had the decency to wait until the last load from Christmas dinner was done.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Renee, I also failed to put out any porridge for the juleniss…indeed, I ate it myself. Waiting cautiously for the retaliation…so far so good (knocking on wood…).

      Liked by 2 people

    2. i have been warned by plumbers never never never to put ice of any kind i the drain. garbage can only. cooked uncooked in a asserole. keep it out of the pipes or live with the consequences.


      1. Not sure what to make of an asserole? I’d love to see an advice column written by you, tim. You seem to have enough advice to go around, but sometimes it needs too much interpretation for me to feel comfortable following it.


  16. Have to agree with tim on this between week being time to reflect.

    There is far too much I cannot find in my house, so I have started excavating/purging/organizing. It has been far too long and is sort of frightening, but also a good thing.

    I’m trying to lay my hands on a book I like to read this time of year. Still haven’t found it but not ready to throw in the towel and try to get it from the library. Yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I am reflecting today on the inventory of cookies/candy I accumulated over the past few days. I was considerably less ambitious as a baker than Renee, but was the recipient of quite a selection. There are peanut butter blossoms, black bottom fruit bars, ginger cookies, some cookies with dates and raisins and walnuts, fudge, frosted cutout cookies, and spritz. I also baked a julekage. Still haven’t found I recipe I really like. What’s in your larder?

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Home made (not by me) Baklava, chocolate bark, orange biscotti, ginger cookies, vanilie kranse, finsk brød, Russian tea cakes, and several other cookies that I have no name for. But most importantly, I have a small loaf of my friend, Helen’s, fruitcake. It’s the best. Most of the cookies will be re-gifted to my friend, Philip, who will appreciate them a lot more than either husband and I would.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. i like russian tea cakes and would pass on the rest. i am an anti sweeet tooth and feel the sugar consequence before it gets ingested these days. had a peanut brittle moment a week or tow ago in rememberance of my dad. my kids wonder what the heck is wrong wit me as i eat and then go into regret mode as i transform into the incredibel hulk of bad digestion. i .ahve a table full of cookies. i have eaten zero.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I have serina kakor, which are little thumbprint butter cookies topped with pearl sugar. I received biscochitos from my New Mexican secretary, lard cookies with anise in them. The serina kakor are nice because the recipe makes 12 dozen small cookies and you can bake 5 dozen at a time on a large cookie sheet.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Did get around to kringla and the Cardamom Wreath Bread. Leftover fish and potatoes (and store bought lefse)…

    Kids arrive some time today, and I will be on sketchily for the next week. After that I will again have time to write some blog posts. Happy New Year, all!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I don’t know if any metro area baboons were out and about in the early evening, but the sunset was truly spectacular. For around a half an hour as darkness came in, the sky blazed. Its light was augmented by the twinkle of Christmas lights. It was a sight to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. With all the moving we did when I was a kid, I was never in a pageant. So I will share a Young Adult story.

    Our church has a “loosey-goosey” pageant with Angels on Wheels, the Wind, Wise Folks and every sort of animal you can imagine (bees, dragons, sheep, cats – one year a Golden Retriever). You have to be five so as the holidays approached in her fifth year, I asked her if she wanted to be in the pageant and what she wanted to be. She wanted to know what she could be so I dutifully replied “an angel, a wise one, a shepherd” – the traditional answers. As soon as I said ‘shepherd” she quickly said “I want to be a leopard’. I said ‘Did you mean Shepherd?” Nope, she meant leopard so leopard it was. I made the costume out of a black sweatpants and sweatshirt dabbed with golden/brown splotches and I found a fluffy black tail and a black and gold headband with ears. Cutest leopard at a holiday pageant ever. The next year she went as Mulan.


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