This past weekend we attended our church's children's Christmas musical. There is nothing like a stage full of school age children singing in shepherd's costumes to restore my faith in humanity. As a recovering children's ministry professional I understand the gargantuan task of having fifty kids stand on stage quietly, let alone sing and remember their lines. Kudos to the director who definitely earned a box of wine that night.
Maeve, Hilde and I all hunkered down in our seats and waited for the show to start. I am not talking about the actual show. While that was cute and all the kids did a great job singing. (More kudos to the director and volunteers, all the kids actually did sing well), it is not the planned parts of the musical that we were looking forward to, it was the unexpected things that place on stage that really stole the show.
For instance the girl with the gigantic bow in her hair on top of her shepherd's headdress. Nothing says Bethlehem shepherd like a hot pink ribbon bow.
Then there the was the little boy standing in front of the microphone. He struggled through the whole performance trying to keep from touching the microphone right in front of him. I could see him eye the mic, lift his hand and quickly pull it down. I knew it was just a matter of time. He made it twenty minutes and then couldn't help himself, he reached out to touch the microphone and poked the mic and grinned mischievously.
Then there were the kids who stood up at the wrong time or sat down when they were supposed to stand up and their friends who elbowed them into the right place.
The obligatory nose picker and the little one who couldn't help but wave over and over the grandparents in the audience.
Too soft lines, too loud lines, repeated lines and mispronunciations - "Beth-el-ly-HAM" anyone? and a very overenthusiastic male director dancing behind our seats. made for a memorable evening.
The Piece De Resistance was when the little boy in front row had his shepherd head wrap (sweatband) fall in front of his eyes. It had been sliding all evening and finally covered his eyes a la a blindfold, right as his speaking came up. I thought for a minute he would stumble off the front of the stage but he didn't. He belted out his line twice and wretched the headpiece back in place and then plopped back on his spot on the hay bale.
It was priceless. We were laughing all the way home. I couldn't wait to blog about it. Hilde had to stop me from snapping a photo of the director while he was swaying back and forth, waving his arms trying to direct the kids from the back of the theater. She said is would be rude. Rude, yes but wouldn't you have wanted to see that picture?
Then I started to think about it. Why is it so funny to see kids be silly on stage? It is because you can't script the best things in life. No matter how much I plan and rehearse life never goes the way I expect. So, to see it happen to someone else on stage is funny. Better him than me.
At Christmas time especially things seem to go haywire. No matter how many lists I make or how many times I review the calendar things never go smoothly. No one plans to have the water heater leak at the beginning of December or to have an endoscopy on December 23rd. (Okay I did plan the endoscopy that day but only because I was trying to squeeze it in before the year end and our insurance changes.)
If you had asked me years ago if it were funny to have the nose picker center stage or to have to deal with plumbers while trying to decorate the Christmas tree, I would have said that those things were unacceptable. It was my Martha Stewart years. I would stayed up to all hours prepping and making up the lost time. I would have seen the whole thing as ruined.
Not anymore. I am learning to live with the unexpected. I can't say that it is always easy, but I am learning. I am learning to experience the unexpected events as opportunities not failures. I am learning to let go of my perfect vision of the holiday in order to be present to my children, who just want to participate. Nothing has gone according to plan but that's okay, I am in good company.
Thousands of years ago a girl named Mary was pledged to a man named Joseph. I am sure they had a vision of how things were supposed to work out. To me the best part about Mary and Joseph's story is that they learned to expect the unexpected. Life didn't go according the script but it turned out to be more than anyone could have imagined.