I’ve mentioned on my website that I write occasional Christmas plays for my junior choir at church.  Last year, I did not.  The choir had become very small, the kids involved in a plethora of after-school events and the adults exhausted by all the demands of the season.  Last year, I kept my hands off the computer keyboard and let others take the lead.   That included a beautiful cello solo by our gifted church organist — and cellist.  I thought how lovely the music sounded and my imagination took over. I could not keep from writing yet another Christmas play.  And so, “Humphrey the Lonely Cello” was born.

But this year, I vowed to be smarter. I wrote a story for narration only with members of the choir acting the parts but not speaking lines.  Fewer rehearsals, fewer bodies needed, fewer demands on all of our time.

Despite being “smart” the lead up to this year’s concert overtook all my other resolutions.  I made last minute costume accessories, baked last minute goodies for the tea, organized others to bake cookies, recruited a kitchen team, marked a script for the lighting guy, coached a teenager on her solo, moved pews, ransacked my house for desk lamps and gave my husband permission to lock me in a closet if I ever again got an idea about a Christmas play!

Show night came, all was in readiness, and the sound system at the church went on the fitz.

What’s a Christmas concert without a panic?  The minister and his son hauled out our portable sound system, the audience sang some carols and, finally, we began.

Our little play came off brilliantly.   When I first began writing for our church stage, the star of this show was two years old.  We’ve put on eight productions since then and the children — er– youth — are all pros.  They appear on stage with ease and aplomb.  They have great ideas about how to perform a scene.  They take responsibility for making the show succeed.  I am very blessed to have them in my life at all times, but especially at Christmas they add the “merry and bright” part.

My husband, lovely man that he is, painted the sets, built the “cello”, lifted the heavy stuff, narrated the story, held my hand, missed his dinner, and didn’t complain once.

Christmas has changed since I was young.  Public celebrations now focus on “The Holidays.”  To proclaim the birth of Christ in the marketplace or the workplace is to invite censure.  Towns put up lights, Santa visits and there’s a tree on every corner but the wonder, the beauty and the holiness of the season are lost beneath the wrapping paper.   Maybe that’s why I can’t help writing a Christmas play.  My Christmas is much more than too much food, too many presents and too numerous parties.   My Christmas includes Bethlehem and shepherds and wise men. Together, with my little band of actors/singers, we declare the message of Christ in the manger, the coming of peace, good will toward men.  We sing out the faith in our hearts and the hope in our souls.  We celebrate Christmas.      Gloria in excelsis Deo