Age to Age

450px-trio_of_handsDirecting our church’s Christmas program is one of the highlights of my Christmas season.

And one of my favorite parts of directing is taking the program on the road to our local nursing home.

Every year I give the kids the same talk.

“I don’t care if you mess up a song or forget a line. I just want you to smile and have fun. If you have fun on stage, your audience will enjoy it. And when we are done, I want each of you to go around the room, take the hand of each and every resident and say Merry Christmas.”

This year was no different.

My older kids knew the drill, but I had some younger kids who had never done a program. They looked at me like I had suddenly sprouted reindeer antlers. Touch old people? Weird.

After church, we had a potluck, put on costumes, packed up props and walked the kids the four blocks to the nursing home where the staff had the residents ready and waiting.

When we had finished presenting the program – which was adorable in it’s imperfections – I prompted the kids to start their “Merry Christmas’ing”.

As my older kids started the rounds, the younger followed.

Small hands, sticky from the potluck dinner, reached out and touched older hands – hands that had seen hard work, loved babies, clapped in joy, and wiped away tears.

Work worn hands that are now so smooth the skin is almost translucent.

I heard the sweet “Merry Twistmas” and saw young eyes full of imp and mischief looking into eyes that had seen much of life.

I saw the hand squeeze. The tentative smiles.

And it happened.

A connection was made.

And then another.

And another.

Those kids started to see beyond the wheelchairs and wrinkles and discovered real people.

Those residents looked into sweet young faces and remembered.

Both the young and the old were blessed.

And there was joy in my heart.

Ready for Opening Night!

Sunday night is the big night.

After weeks of rehearsals – hours of sewing and singing and writing – the Children’s Christmas Program is really coming together.

And as it came together – we all saw both in the story we tell on stage, and more importantly in real life – that God always provides.

Christmas Program 2012He provided costumes – many of them free.

All the girls have jumpers, blouses, and great big hair ribbons.

All the boys have knickers, sweater vests, argyle socks and hats.

Everybody has black shoes.

McTavishOur smooth talking salesman has a loud checkered coat, super sized bow tie, bowler hat and cane.


God provided everything we needed on stage – including a front porch complete with screen door, window and a rocking chair.

He provided all the props – the quilts, the wagons,  even the horse.

piggies in tutusHe provided some adorable piggies with appropriate noses, pig ears, and pretty pink tutus. Piglets just look prettier in a tutu!

Now – after taking the kids on the road for a dress rehearsal at the local nursing home – we’re ready for the big night.

It’s always a little sad when it’s all over.  I really love working with the kids – and this has been such a fun program!

Soon this Christmas program will be just a memory – but I hope and pray that the kids remember the lessons learned in the program – that God always provides.

Christmas Program Memory

‘Tis the season for Christmas programs! My nieces and nephews had theirs last week, ours is this Sunday, and one Facebook friend had three on consecutive nights recently. So, in honor of nervous children, Christmas carols, and frazzled directors everywhere, here is a true Christmas Program memory to put a smile on your face!

Young PoppaThe year was 1940.

Jan’s dad, or Poppa as the kids call him, was ten years old and growing up in tiny Kensington, Minnesota.

The school children were in state of great excitement as Christmas approached. Poppa was no exception.

Part of their excitement was the upcoming Christmas pageant. This was back in the days when shepherds,  angels and baby Jesus were an integral part of the school program, and Poppa had been chosen to read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke.

It was quite an honor.

To add to the excitement, the pageant was to be held downtown at Kensington Hall. The hall was large and boasted a real stage and two sets of curtains – the plush red velvet and an inner curtain of mesh that the angel choir stood behind – all adding to the drama.

For weeks the students practiced and prepared during school hours, as the excitement mounted for the big event!

Finally the evening had come for the performance.

The students all came dressed in their Christmas finery. Poppa was wearing his best suit and his hair was slicked back just right.

The program began on time and seemed to go without a hitch. The angel choir looked angelic behind their mesh curtain as one by one the students performed, building up to the climax – the reading of Luke 2.

Poppa stood in the wings nervously waiting his turn. He opened his Bible to look at the passage one more time and suddenly realized that it was pitch black!

They had only practiced during  school hours – when the sunlight streamed in the large auditorium windows.  With all the house lights off, he couldn’t read a word!

He frantically told the nearby teacher, who frantically told the next one, who frantically wrung her hands in panic.

Finally, the primary teacher, Miss Bovem,  suggested a flashlight. She said she would stand on the other side of the curtain and hold it through the crack so that Poppa could read.

A flashlight was found.

Poppa nervously stepped between the velvet curtains, cleared his voice, opened his Bible and waited for Miss Bovem to turn the flashlight on, reach her arm through the curtains and illuminate the passage.

The light appeared and he started to read the familiar words, growing more confident with each verse.

Meanwhile, behind that heavy velvet curtain, Miss Bovem’s arm was getting tired. She supported it with her other arm and leaned slightly into the curtain.

Still Poppa read.

Then suddenly – without warning – the flashlight flew across the stage as a very startled Miss Bovem crashed through the curtain, landing in a heap on the floor!

The startled audience gasped – and then a few seconds later – a titter of laughter was heard. Soon, the entire hall was doubled over in laughter!

Poppa’s big part was a smashing success!

By the way – Miss Bovem was uninjured in the fall, and later married Corkie Windell and lived a long and happy life. But I’m sure she never again volunteered for the Christmas program!


Frugal Christmas Costumes

Things are gearing up for the children’s Christmas program at church with our performance Sunday night! 🙂

This year’s program takes place in Bible times – which means we needed period costumes for all the kids.

Dagmar decided it was time to retire the motley collection of plaid bathrobes that had served as costumes for several decades – and step things up a little.

But that wasn’t going to be cheap. Have you seen fabric prices lately?!

There was no way we were spending hundreds of dollars on costumes that would be used once a year for a couple of hours – especially when they are children in the world going to bed hungry tonight!

It was time to get creative!

We did find a great costume pattern with multiple looks and sizes on sale at Michael’s – then we started the hunt for material. Trust me – we left no stone unturned!

We raided Nana Shirley’s cupboards which yielded a few nice pieces and some great trims! Lorine, our resident seamstress at church, also found us some good stuff.

Then we started shopping garage sales, thrift stores and bargain bins.
White with PurpleOur best bargain? The plain white cotton sheet. They were cheap and pretty easy to find – and a little Rit dye turned them into whatever colored we needed!
King Herod
A shiny plaid piece from a garage sale made a great costume for King Herod, especially when topped with a vest made from a fake red velvet bed spread we found for a dollar at the local thrift store!


The shepherds were really fun! A ratty old blanket turned into a great vest and an old bathroom rug with a hole in the middle became a sheepskin to throw over a shoulder.

Red with a bagWe used sheets, blankets, table cloths, curtains, table runners and even bed skirts to find the material we needed.

When she ran out of trims, Dagmar started used contrasting threads and played with the fancy stitches on the sewing machine to finish off the edges.

Aunt Julie came for a weekend to help her sew and put the finishing touches on everything.

The final result?

Some great looking and versatile costumes for a little bit of money.

And that works for me!

I’ve linked this post with Works For Me Wednesday at We Are That Family.

A Stroke of Brilliance?

Jan did a double take when he walked in the kitchen the other day.

There I was – sitting at the table with four of the kids surrounded by a pile of blocks and Duplo people.

A few years ago that sight would have been commonplace – but now that 3 of those 4 kids are teenagers – it was a little unusual.

So unusual that it made him pause and ask, “What are you doing?!”

“I am being brilliant!” was my reply.

ToysHe looked at me quizzically.

Okay – so maybe brilliant isn’t the best word. Maybe creative would be better.

I explained that it was time to stage the Children’s Christmas Program – and since that was traditionally a very confusing and noisy rehearsal – I had the brilliant idea to use Duplo people and stage it on the kitchen table before using live children.

The kids found the right number of Duploes and helped me name them. We added a few blocks to act as the piano and the riser and my cell phone became the manger.

We went through the script scene by scene, moving our Duplo characters across the stage.

It went pretty well except that I often forgot who was who and would occasionally call them “carrot nose” and “fireman” and “mustache dude” instead of Eli, Jotham and Levi.

Funny thing was – because of my large hand maneuvering them – those plastic kids still fell off the riser and often knocked each other over!

But at least they didn’t talk out of turn!

I still think it was brilliant. 🙂