Confessions of an Ex-director

Once calendars change to December 1, airport authorities turn their attention from averting terrorists to halting the escape of Christmas program directors. Many seek asylum in remote jungles. The most desperate sign up for space shuttle flights.

Why this seasonal exodus? Until Advent, optimistic directors delude themselves that Christmas program rehearsals are going well. Yet choirs have forgotten their music every week. Sixth-grade clarinet players blow the wrong end.

With a turn of the calendar page to December, however, …

Christmas program directors run screaming from holly wreaths and The Salvation Army bell ringers.

Experts say victims of this psychosis, like Grandma, were obviously run over by reindeer. Which explains why anyone would become a Christmas program director in the first place.

The real drama begins when soloists and speaking roles are chosen.  Most Nativity plays include only one Mary, and 49 hopeful candidates — backed by 49 equally hopeful mothers — eye the role. Choosing an Infant Jesus from the cute babies in a nursery is a task no Middle East negotiator should tackle.

Amidst controversy, enter the Advent flu. …

It never picks off a candy cane who speaks one line. No. This deadly illness wipes out leads and entire tenor sections. The Annunciation loses something when a nauseous-looking Gabriel delivers his lines holding a barf bag.

Standing defenseless before hacking, germy choirs, instrumentalists and casts, the courageous director battles a shower of viruses unmatched anywhere in the universe.

But by law, directors are not permitted to die during Advent. So, gulping remedies and popping pills, they face weeks of practices. It is said there are no atheists in foxholes. This also holds true during Christmas program dress rehearsals.

Finally, the Big Day arrives …

… and the cast stuns the director with an incredible performance. They were actually listening when she begged them to warm up horns, annunciate words and not pick their noses.

To be sure, no production escapes imperfection. The angels suffer from static cling. Joseph still doesn’t know how to sit while wearing a dress. And as Wise Men and Shepherds adore the Baby, a borrowed donkey leaves offerings on the hay-strewn floor.

But flawed performances only remind leaders that the original event took place with no rehearsals, except in the Mind of God. And as weary directors everywhere breathe a deep sigh of relief and shelve Christmas music until next August, no one needs to tell them Christmas miracles still happen today.

Have you ever led or participated in a Christmas program? What moment would you most like to forget?

5 thoughts on “Confessions of an Ex-director

  1. Ruth

    With as many As I have been involved with I am sure I have many…the first one that came to mind was when I was sitting on the few steps to the church platform surrounded by children dressed in their Christmas best and a decorated tree. What a wonderful setting as I began to read the Christmas Story to these perfect looking children until Louis, that precocious child that disaster always seemed to follow, started moving. His moving led him right into the tree, of course knocking it over,scattering all back to their seats and the protection of their parents. Merry Christmas one and all!

    1. rachael Post author

      Lol, Ruth! Why does it never turn out the way we planned?! I once watched a Nativity play in which one of the darling little kids wearing animal costumes slugged another, and the whole group fell over like dominoes! Not exactly peace on earth.

      I hope your Christmas is better than that! Thanks for commenting.

  2. Barbara Brutt

    Heavens to Betsy, Rachael. This is so spot on. Thankfully, I was just the assistant, but I know that things got insane. For me, the crazy is over…but for many, they’re still in the throes of Christmas madness.

    1. rachael Post author

      Hahahaha! Barbara, I directed Christmas programs for 20 years or so at our former church, so anything that could happen to a director has happened to me! Worked with wonderful people, though. But now I sing joyously in the back row of the church choir, while someone else worries about angels falling off the back risers and the demon-possessed sound system.


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