The Amazing Miracles of the School Holiday Program

Hi, and welcome back this merry month of December! I wonder if you feel like I do- that the approaching holidays are careening like a runaway freight train- and you’re strapped to the front of the train!

Actually, my holidays aren’t nearly as hectic as they used to be since my children are raised and my husband and I have been empty nesters for quite a while. I still feel busy, but nothing like the young families I have seen and known over the years rushing from activity to activity with their little ones in tow.

All this crazy busy-ness only seems to intensify as the holidays approach. I was thinking about this as I watched a mom with three little kids negotiate the aisles of a local big-box store. I found myself thinking that it’s a miracle parents ever accomplish anything with their mini-companions along and I suddenly knew that I had found my topic for this blog post.

The Amazing Miracles of the School Holiday Program! Let’s take a closer look at the typical elementary school holiday program. I never took notes on the process, but as an observant school secretary, I noticed a certain pattern play out each year.

Sometime in early November, our award-winning music teacher would start working on the program with over 300 little people. Twice a week in music class students would diligently work on learning words to songs, singing in harmony, learning a few “actions” and hand movements to go with the songs and, quite often, learning a few dance steps.

The elves in Santa’s workshop weren’t any busier than our music department in the weeks leading up to winter break and the holiday program. Little people sang, little people danced, little people rang bells, and throughout, our music teacher nudged them along trying to turn them into a cohesive unit by the appointed evening of the program.

Each year a flurry of emails would be sent to classroom teachers with various reminders and requests. And in the week leading up to the program things usually reached a fever pitch.

For one thing, classroom teachers were busily reviewing the words to holiday songs so there were no misunderstandings. For instance, when my daughter was little and saying her prayers, she misinterpreted the phrase, “Blessed art Thou”, and each night before bed she dutifully prayed, “Bless our cow”. No such errors were going to happen under the watchful eye of the classroom teacher!

As a natural liaison between home and school, it felt as if my copier was constantly pumping out updates and reminders for kids to take home. Notes about what time to be there, what special clothing or costumes were needed, reminders for families to bring a food donation for our annual food drive that evening and many other memory jogs on festive colored paper went home that week before the program.

During this obviously busy time, there was also a lot going on behind the scenes. In particular, dedicated parents spent numerous hours transforming the auditorium and stage into a winter wonderland. And they constantly amazed everyone with their creative and inspiring designs.

The morning of the Holiday Program usually dawned crisp and clear- or crisp and snowy, depending on the weather pattern that year.  The time had come for an all-school rehearsal.

During all the weeks of preparation, each class met and learned and practiced their pieces as a small class unit in the music room. Now was the time when all the classes came together for an all-school rehearsal in preparation for that evening’s performance.

All 300+ students arrived at the auditorium under the close guidance of their teachers. When the stage decorations were seen for the first time the children’s voices were high-pitched and jangling. Everyone was so excited!

Teachers, using their masterful skills, shepherded their highly-charged charges as they turned from animated, fired up youngsters into awestruck little people awaiting their turn on stage. Here it was- the moment of truth!

Almost without fail, the all-school dress rehearsal was less than stellar. Children forgot words, some stood poking the person on the risers next to them, while others just stared at all the goings-on.

It wasn’t a bad performance, because just having all these kids together singing, playing instruments, dancing and cavorting could never be “bad”. But it wasn’t quite the polished performance that all the school personnel were hoping for.

Undaunted and full of hope, the teachers would send their students home at dismissal time with last-minute reminders about the evening.

As the clock hands raced around the face of the clock, students started arriving home. Unless you’ve experienced it, one can only imagine the hustle and bustle of getting kids fed, finding their special clothes, washing faces, combing hair, digging through the cupboards for food donations, scraping ice from the car windows and finally loading the whole family up for the drive to the auditorium.

And here’s the First Amazing Miracle of the Evening. Families pulled it off! Children miraculously arrived on time with their food donations, musical instruments, bells and other needed items in tow.

Adoring fans, a.k.a. families, crowded into auditorium seats and anxiously scanned the program (more busy output from the office copier) for their child’s appointed 15 minutes of fame.

And as the lights lowered and the curtain rose, the Second Amazing Miracle of the Evening occurred. The Hawthorne School Holiday Program began on a beautiful note and proceeded as planned to the final crescendo of the final song.

It was a night to be remembered!

Cathie

 

 

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