Christmas programs keep holiday cheer alive

Karen Wils photo On the risers, a class from years ago at Holy Name sings in the Christmas program.

ESCANABA — The old wooden stage creaked and the risers wiggled beneath the weight of the second grade class.

Excitement was in the air!

The small gym was stuffy and filled with people. Then the spotlight beamed … and the piano played…

Tucked away in a treasure box of memories, are the Christmas programs of yesterday. Almost everyone has been in one, or helped put one on, or attended one, over the years.

Nothing can touch hearts and usher in the true spirit of Christmas like children at a Christmas program.

In the olden days, the Christmas pageant was a simple thing. Each child had a part. The costumes were homemade or bathrobes, blankets, cardboard cutout angel wings and garland halos.

Even one room school houses and tiny country churches made room for a Christmas play.

The Nativity was played out every year — and what a special privilege it was to get a part like an angel or shepherd or wise man.

“Jingle Bells” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” reverberated from the stage to the hallways.

Christmas programs are what memories are made of, just ask any Mom.

When my brother Dave was in grade school, he was one of the cutest little Shepard boys.

Dave had to memorize the line “this is all I have to bring the infant Savior, a little white lamb.” My brother was a quiet, soft-spoken kid, so we all practiced his line over and over with him.

When it came time for Dave’s part, I think all six of the Rose children lips moved, but Dave’s voice call out loud and clear!

We all will remember that line for the rest of our lives.

For many years, I worked as a teacher’s aide at Holy Name Grade School. Nothing can put you into a Christmas mood like twenty kindergarteners.

I know firsthand how much work and time can go into a simple Christmas program. Trying to make it a good experience for all of the kids can be a bit of a challenge. Some are shy, some are loud, and some are close to falling off the risers.

As a parent, I know how many hours of preparation goes into the Christmas program. For girls we get the dress, hair ribbons, and shoes already to go. Grandparents and family all notified. Bow tie, white shirt and pants and try to keep a boy clean until stage time, not always easy to do.

But then, all of a sudden, it’s your son or daughter’s class up there on the stage and time stands still for a little while.

A new memory is made.

If you’re going to a Christmas program or Christmas concert soon, enjoy the moment and take the spirit of Christmas home with you. Share it with everyone!

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Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong north Escanaba resident. Her folksy columns appear weekly in Lifestyles.