This is a chapter in a book I am writing about our family's adventures called "Family Praise"
Being a pastor's wife I always thought it sad that residents in nursing homes missed out on the best part of Christmas: coming to church on Christmas Eve to see the age-old story of the birth of the Savior presented by the of children. I know my favorite celebration was always the Children’s Christmas Program.
But, wait. If they couldn't come to the church, how about bringing the program to the nursing home? One of the ladies in our congregation worked in a nursing home in an old brick building in a near-by town. There were about 30 residents; a ready audience. If they needed a Christmas program we could easily supply the children. After all, by this time we had six of them.
I was pretty sure we would be a hit just by showing up. Elderly people love having little children around. The children didn't really have to do anything but be themselves. But, wouldn't it be nice to write a little Christmas program to present to the residents in the home?
We lived in a very German community, so perhaps we could learn a song in German. Marcus was still a baby. He could be baby Jesus.. The older boys could be shepherds and angels and Steve and Paula could be Mary and Joseph. Also, I had seen a skit once that could easily be adapted into a Christmas theme. My mind was racing with ideas.
Deciding to start with the skit, I rounded up the kids.
"O.K. Listen up. We're going to put on a little play," I told them.
“Bring those pieces of poster board over here, Philip. I want to put some letters on them.”
I carefully printed a large N on the first piece of poster board. The letter O followed on the next blank sheet. E next and L followed that. One board had a special message.
“Ok, here’s the deal,” I instructed. “ Each of you will hold up a letter and you’ll have a recitation pertaining to that letter.”
And so we practiced. Nine–year-old Phil stood and showed the others how to do it.
“See, you hold the board so it has the blank side and then you flip it around to say your speech. I get 'N' so I flip my 'N' over so the people can see it and I say, 'N' is for Nativity.’”
“Ok, Peter. You get 'O'.” I handed him the next placard.
“What does 'O' stand for?” asked eight-year-old Peter.
“‘O’ is for Old Testament prophecy. Do you think you can remember that?” I asked.
Peter rolled his eyes at me. Our children had daily memory work at their parochial school. Why would he have any trouble remembering six words?
“Ok. Scratch that question.”
At seven Mattew had already figured out the drill. “What’s my letter?”
“You get ‘E’. Your recitation is ‘E’ is for Eternal life.’ Ok. Stephen, do you think you can hold one of these, too?”
That was a silly question. Whatever the older boys did four-year-old Stephen was always there trying to keep up. Once when the older boys were out riding their bikes I saw Stephen racing after them, pushing his bike. He hadn’t quite learned to ride it yet, but he had a bike and they were biking, so… A few minutes later I heard him come in the back door crying.
“What’s up, buddy?” I asked.
“They call me ground patrol”, he wailed with frustration.
“Ok, Stephen your letter is L.” ‘L’ is for love. Now line yourselves up according to age and you can see why people will like the skit. ‘N’, ‘O’, ‘E’ ‘L’. “Noel”
At which point my husband Paul came into the living room to see the progress.
“Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel”, he sang the familiar refrain. “There is no water if there is no well.”
Peter rolled his eyes.
“Ok, Let’s show Daddy our skit. Oh, I forgot. Here Paula. You hold this one and turn it around when I tell you. Don’t worry. You don’t have to say anything.”
And so they did the skit. Everyone knew their lines. Matthew had his ‘E’ upside down, but since he told us what it was we figured it out. And there stood Paula with her sign, almost as big as she was.
“Ok, turn yours around, Paula.”
Three-years is pretty young to be in a skit, but Paula loved being a part of anything that was happening so she was really proud of her part. It took some effort, but finally she got her sign turned over.