Category Archives: Stories of my Life

The Best Pageant Ever

Christmas Pageant imageWhen I was growing up the church Christmas pageant was a serious event. There were auditions – musical auditions – and even though I sang in the choir and thought I had a lovely voice I never made the cut.

There were rehearsals too. Lots of them as I recall stretching through Advent month with anticipation rising as the weeks passed. The strange thing is I don’t remember a single one of those most likely impressive performances.

Decades later – way past my Northern New York girlhood – my husband Jonathan and I moved to an island in Puget Sound a twenty-minute ferry ride from Seattle. Many things were different in our new home place. Including the Christmas pageant at our small island church.

First of all nobody said anything about auditions. A pageant was listed among the planned holiday events. I waited for an audition schedule to be listed as well but none appeared. I hadn’t even told Jonathan of my intention to try out but eventually I had ask somebody.

“We don’t audition. Everyone participates.”

I had no idea what that answer meant but I didn’t want to appear too eager so I kept quiet on the subject until Christmas Eve. The pageant was at seven in the evening because that was a better time for the children of the parish than the later service near midnight.

Jonathan may have thought midnight was the more adult choice but he’d detected my eagerness as he often detects my secrets. At my insistence we arrived early with home-baked cookies in hand as suggested.

“Are you an angel or a shepherd?”

The question was so unexpected I answered without thinking.

“An angel of course.”

I’d intended that as a rather nervous joke. It was honored all the same and soon a pair of wings was pinned to my back and a halo of silver tinsel garland circled my head.

“This will tell you what to do.”

My dresser thrust the bulletin that was our script into my hand. The line of people behind me was pressing forward so I moved on without asking more. Meanwhile Jonathan was carrying a wooden staff and had a blanket draped over his shoulders. He’d become a shepherd.

Everyone was in a festive mood – much more jolly than reverent – and the following hour was just as joyful. We went forward to the altar when our scripts directed us to do so. We sang carols in unrehearsed voices – “Angels We Have Heard on High” from my contingent.

Wings were askew. Shepherds’ blankets slipped off shoulders. Children giggled and the baby Jesus slept through it all. Eventually most of the congregation was on the altar singing and listening to the familiar nativity story being told by the priest whose halo bobbed over one eye.

A few timid souls still in the pews were our only audience. I was especially glad not to be among them this time because it was the best Christmas pageant ever. And afterward we ate cookies.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

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Homemade Ornaments

Christmas 2013 -- Tree without lights onThe tradition began with my daughter in law back when our granddaughter was too young to handle anything more dangerous than scissors and glitter. Her mom took over where a hot glue gun was required. The gold and purple stocking at the top of the tree in the photo is an example of one such project.

I don’t honestly know if the stocking was made by our granddaughter or our grandson who joined the glue gun posse a few years later. What I do know is that I dearly love every one of those homemade ornaments.

I’m kind of a nut about Christmas. Maybe because my own birthday is December 26th and somewhere in my soul I imagine the Christ child is sharing a tiny bit of his thunder with me.

Friends and family are aware of this yuletide obsession of mine and the tendency to over-decorate that goes with it. Tree ornaments have been a favorite gift choice for years. The Bloomingdales taxi was also my daughter in law’s inspired bit of glitz in reference to another of my holiday obsessions.

In fact each of the ornaments on that tree is a gift from someone I love. But the homemade ones are all from our grandchildren. Eventually they graduated from scissors and hot glue to dough and paint and the era of the home-baked tree began.

We were living in the Pacific Northwest by then and every year new home-baked ornaments arrived. Carefully crafted and even more carefully wrapped they nestled under the tree they would soon adorn – waiting for Grandma to unswaddle them with a full heart and glistening eyes.

The Santa face and the red flower on a blue background and the brightly colored sun – all in the branches of the photo tree – plus many more. They accumulated as the boughs hung heavier and more precious to me with each passing year. Until it was time to move back home from the northwest to the northeast.

A great deal of packing was involved but none more crucial to me than the packing of the homemade ornaments. Yards of bubble wrap and heavy duty tape were employed. I didn’t care how many boxes it took. And I insisted they were not to travel in the moving van with the rest of our belongings.

My red Jeep Wrangler was being shipped east too. Under my vigilant supervision the cartons of homemade ornaments were stacked inside. Still I was anxious about their fate. Jonathan promised to call me the moment he saw the Jeep at the east coast pickup point.

“The ornament boxes are fine,” he said before I could even ask the question. “Thank you,” I answered. My heart was more articulate as it whispered, “God bless us every one.”

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

A Vacancy at the Inn – Alice Orr’s Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Christmas Novella – A holiday bargain for 99 cents at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RZFGWC. Enjoy!

 

The Santa Suit

Grandpa SantaThere’s been more than one Santa suit in the history of this particular tradition in our family. The first suit appeared long ago – even before our grandchildren. Santa visited our grown children in those days and always according to the same ritual.

We’d be in the midst of gift giving on Christmas morning when he arrived. “Ho Ho Ho” he’d boom in a jolly voice from the doorway. “Hello Santa” we’d respond with grins plastered across our faces.

“Isn’t that little Eddie?” Santa would ask eldest son who hadn’t been little in quite some time. Santa would then visit each of us with packages he pulled from a bag like the one that hung in our laundry closet.

The first time the Santa suit went public was at the Schenectady, New York YWCA holiday party. Rumor had it that Santa was hesitant about taking his show on the road on a Saturday morning being more accustomed to Christmas midnight creeps and solitary chimneys – until the children were let loose.

They barreled out of a room adjoining the one with the brightly decorated tree. Shouts of “It’s Santa!” filled the air and his mustache twitched into smiling position – swiftly followed by a hearty “Ho Ho Ho.”

At some point Mrs. Santa invested in a second Santa suit made of more substantial material. Velvet in fact with soft white trim. Santa’s beard had grown more curly and lengthy also and the peak of his red hat no longer drooped.

His former suit found a new home with another cash-strapped organization much like the YWCA. Mr. and Mrs. Santa were pleased to know that the long-beloved garment would be gleefully enjoyed by many children for years to come.

Meanwhile our own grandchildren had joined the family and they loved Santa’s Christmas morning visits too. Maybe even more than their parents and aunts and uncles had. Santa’s “Ho Ho Ho” was more enthusiastic than ever.

Nonetheless last year he asked Mrs. Santa a question that troubled her very much. “Do you think the Santa suit is getting a little silly? Maybe they’re too old for it.” The grandkids are twelve and seventeen now.

“Absolutely not” was Mrs. Santa’s vehement answer. “The children would miss it. We all would.”

That was especially true for her and she was quite relieved when he didn’t argue further. Because there are few things as lovable and dear as the Christmas gift of a good man in a Santa suit.

Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com.

RR

A Vacancy at the Inn – Alice Orr’s Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Series Christmas Novella – a Holiday bargain for 99 cents at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017RZFGWC .