I know, at this time of year, no one’s really thinking of the Christmas holidays. But an experience I had this season keeps coming back to me. I was at my son, Drake’s, elementary school Christmas program. They always perform a variety of music, both secular and religious. Perfect for a rural Oklahoma community. Each class sings twice.
This year I loved seeing Drake, wearing a great big Santa beard, singing Santa is his name-O. I think you can guess the origin of that song.
But the end of the program was the most moving. Several years ago, when my daughter, Jessica, entered pre-Kindergarten, a deaf boy entered the class with her. He has other problems as well and an aide fluent in sign is always with him. Since that time, many of Jessie’s class programs have included sign language. This group has moved up to middle school, but influence of that sweet boy is still felt in the elementary.
At the end of this year’s program, instead of singing, the Pre-K kids signed Away in a Manger, accompanied by a violin soundtrack. It was exquisite to see them sign in silence, save for the violins. They went through the song once, then, without missing a beat, the entire elementary joined in, singing and signing together. What a spirit of unity and hope filled the gymnasium.
Later, I told the band/choir director how touching the program ending was and he told me that when they practiced it together, the singing at the end was spontaneous. The song burst out of the students as if they couldn’t bear to hold it back, as if the story demanded to be told. It was so beautiful that he and the other teachers decided to do the program that way.
I’m glad they did. It’s one of those memories I’ll always treasure.
What holiday experiences stick with you? What are some of your favorite Christmas memories?