When I was younger (I’m a bit embarrassed to admit by younger I mean twelve, not four), I would stage Christmas “pageants” for my family every year after Christmas lunch. I wrangled my poor brother and sister into being my actors and since it was just the three of us and I had to do the “directing,” they each played multiple roles. Gracie would be Mary and a wise man and an angel and an animal… Taylor would be Joseph, two wise men, a shepherd… you get the idea. There were props and I even put my dad’s reading lamp to good use as a spotlight. I carefully culled my parent’s cassette collection selecting the perfect song to go with each scene. Amy Grant’s “Tender Tennessee Christmas” made it into the repertoire one year, a decision that seems perfectly prophetic now, but my very favorite song, the pinnacle of my little home-spun production, was Sandi Patty’s “O Holy Night.”
The most infamous rendition of Sandi’s “O Holy Night” featured my sister’s gray cat Stormy as the Baby Jesus. Gracie, aka Mary, held the furry Baby Jesus, the lights were dim, a single light shone down on the mother and child, er, cat, and I held my breath. It was beautiful. And then Sandi hit her final note, “Diviiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine!!!!!” And with that, Stormy decided she had had enough. She darted from the swaddling clothes, leaped out of the arms of the loving Mary and ran hissing out of the living room. It was Oscar-worthy for sure.
I can’t believe my poor siblings put up with this year after year, but I loved every minute of it. This morning, Lydia asked if I could help her create a manger for Baby Jesus (who looks a lot like Baby Tiana, thank you, Disney.) I laughed and almost sent my small group an email knowing they always get a good laugh when I tell them stories of my “productions.” A few minutes later armed with an old bed sheet, a Pottery Barn shower curtain and a motley crew of stuffed animals we created our own little version of “O Holy Night.” And, as if on cue, Pandora started playing “O Holy Night.” It was the Glee version, not Sandi Patty, but pretty perfect nonetheless.
The past couple years, I’ve attempted to do the 25 Days of Christmas, and by Day 4 I’m pulling out my hair. This year I decided I wasn’t going to put that pressure on myself. Although yesterday, I tried to make these cute twig ornaments like my crafty, talented friend Kimmie did, and it was an epic hot-glue-in-my-hair-burn-my-fingers-twigs-fell-apart mess. So maybe instead of decorating sugar cookies we’ll hit up Muddy’s for a Grinch cupcake (key lime… so yum!) and instead of making adorable ornaments we’ll wear shower curtains as head dresses, but when I see Lydia’s eyes glimmer from the light of the candles on the advent wreath every night or when I walk by our nativity and see that she has moved all the animals so they are looking right over Baby Jesus, I know one thing… that feeling I had as a child when Sandi Patty hit that last note, that sense of awe and wonder at my Savior, she’s getting it. O Holy Night, indeed.