I went to a Catholic school which means Catholic school Christmas shows go back to my earliest memories. For weeks our music teacher took us through our assigned carols. Each grade sang two songs – one reverent, like “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, and one fun, like “Frosty the Snowman”. Most of us had to stand on the risers. A few of us got to dress in costume and act. And a cross-section of students from all grades closed the show with the musical version of the Nativity.
It was a big deal attended by parents, grandparents, friends, and family.
One year, the music teacher picked my sister to be Suzy Snowflake. She picked me to read the Nativity story. My sister got to wear a beautiful white costume with tinsel and ballet shoes. I got to wear the same thing all the girls were wearing – white blouse, dark skirt, and shoes that didn’t make any noise. We both got to miss class for special rehearsals, but while my sister danced across the stage, I stood on the side, reading from Luke while other kids in costume acted out the Nativity.
I felt my sister received the better deal until the night of the show. Peering into that dark auditorium as hundreds of adults watched a group of schoolchildren perform the Nativity and sing “Silent Night” was powerful.
I never forgot it.
For the last 12 years, I’ve been one of the adults watching as my children perform in the annual BCACS Christmas recital. The experience is still powerful, maybe more so. It prevents this sacred season from being a Winter Solstice Gift Exchange, full of bills and calories and logistics. It reminds me of what I believe and who I am trying to become and why.
Having a school Christmas show is one of the luxuries of attending a Catholic school. There is no need to beat around the bush or filter for generic holiday ditties. We know the reason for the season and are free to celebrate it. Whether harking a herald of angels or smiling at Suzy Snowflake, Jesus is the eternal source of our Christmas Spirit.
The BCACS Christmas show is different from any other school event, even the musical ones. It’s the only time of year our whole school family is involved – all the grades, all the parents, all the teachers and priests, and administrators. Together we enjoy the energy of the little ones and the musicianship of the older ones and camaraderie of being communal shepherds of our BCACS flock.
And, as always, there will be kids in costume performing the Nativity, singing “Silent Night”, and connecting us to Christmas recitals past, present and future.
A quote that deserves an encore:
Our BCACS music teacher Ayesha Williamson Franklin shared this with our BCACS Family recently. It seemed the right “note” to end this blog post.
“Today, a preschooler sang in music class. She has not said a word in music class all year and, it is my understanding, not much outside of class. Some days she would participate, but most days she would just sit quietly. Today, she sang. And it was beautiful – on pitch and full of joy. Today was a great day.”