A Christmas Confession

Published on December 16, 2014 with No Comments

This is a short story written by Sylvia Melvin, who is a member of the Panhandle Writers Group. The Panhandle Writers Group meets at the Guy Thompson Community Center every Thursday night at 6 p.m.

As December approached, I experienced a premonition that grew stronger each time I entered our church. The annual Christmas program was without a leader this year. That tiny voice that dwells within the deepest part of our consciousness whispered to me that I would probably hold that honor before the week was out.

I suppose it was inevitable. I had been teaching a junior class, was a relative newcomer to the congregation, and no others had eagerly rushed forward to offer their services. For some unexplained reason, it is extremely difficult for me, when in a divine sanctuary, to refuse to help a group of children who are supposed to be looking forward to the singing, recitations, and playacting. Any hesitation on my part was met with the usual flattery: “We know you’d do a marvelous job, and there will be plenty of help.”

The following day found me at the city library, which apparently decided decades ago never to stock their shelves with Sunday School Christmas programs. Strike one. Telling myself that surely the church library would have ample material, I confidently inquired there. The best they could offer was a catalog of pamphlets that had to be ordered four to six weeks in advance. That was little consolation when the program was scheduled to be held in three. Strike two.

At the point of tears, I wandered aimlessly down the street. I peeked through the window of a tiny bookstore. My eyes rested upon a ceramic crèche, beautifully displayed among religious books and pictures. Silently praying that I would not strike out, I entered and pled my case. I thought there was a suspiciously angelic look about the lady that helped me out of my dilemma. I would gladly have given her my life savings for the material she showed me. The program would go on!

My enthusiasm actually peaked one evening as I sat down and read the kindergarten recitations of welcome, the choral readings depicting the nine letters in the word Christmas, and the meaningful message of the Nativity play. Reality soon brought me out of my euphoria, though, as I learned that assigning each child to a part on paper is an entirely different story than the actual process. The first child offered no hesitation in telling me he would not take part. The second echoed the same sentiment. Crushed, I finally had to resort to a lecture on Christmas spirit and individual responsibility.

The multitude of help promised turned out to be the janitor, who offered to set up the chairs the night of the performance, and a reluctant teenager who was under direct orders from his parents to pull the curtain at the appropriate times.

Organizing a time for the practice sessions was like trying to fit eight days into seven. The competition among the church and school programs and the usual holiday festivities was stiff indeed. I felt that the night the fog moved in and forced a cancellation of a badly needed practice was a test of my endurance.

Voices that normally could be heard the distance of a football field merely whispered on the stage. During the singing, the only one who could be heard above the piano was me. I really hadn’t planned on doing a solo.

One particular child kept crossing his legs and shuffling from side to side until I reminded him that a dance routine was probably not in order for one of the wise men. As it turned out, nature was calling.

When at last the primary class was standing perfectly and could actually be heard to the back of the room, the city of Bethlehem, which was painted on mural paper, tumbled down around them. I learned an invaluable lesson that evening: put your trust in the Lord-not in masking tape.

Finally, the day of reckoning came. Butterflies the size of eagles were dancing in the pit of my stomach. I had this haunting feeling that the reputation of the entire denomination was resting on this presentation.

Slowly, the curtain parted. No turning back. Yes, there were the usual forgotten lines and cases of stage fright, but my confidence returned as eight tiny faces captivated the audience with their angelic bell-like voices. The hurdles and frustrations I had experienced earlier no longer seemed so important. It all fell into its proper perspective. No stars were meant to be born on that stage, just memories to last a lifetime.

Posted in Entertainment, News

No Comments

There are currently no comments on A Christmas Confession. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

Leave a Comment