Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Pageant for Christmas Babies

This morning at the local UU congregation, there was a Christmas/Holiday/Solstice pageant called “The Shortest Day.” It (and several songs) was written by Neal Herr, an English prof at SUNY Adirondack. The congregation has performed it three years running. It was serious and funny, and I think respectful in its own way of the Christian tradition.

The central character is “Questioning Girl,” who was born on Christmas and feels cheated. Her father gives her money and says, “Here, this is for Christmas and your birthday.” She wonders if she matters and falls into a dream. Sir Isaac Newton appears (“I am the greatest scientist who ever lived.”) and tells Questioning Girl that he too was born on Dec. 25. He gives the meaning of “Life As We Know It” as about the cosmos and laws of physics. She responds that this view of life is “cold.”

Her dog appears in the dream as “Og,” a caveman (who doesn’t know when he was born) and says “No. There is a good and evil spirit in everything. Light fire to make sun return.”

Clara Barton arrives to tell Questioning Girl that she, too, was born on Dec. 25, and that life is about giving and loving. (Good timing for the offering.)
The Egyptian, Horus, tells about being born on Dec. 25 of a virgin.

The rapping “Three Wise Kids” (the photo is what you get when you Google "3 rappers") tell the origin of our Christmas customs. Questioning Girl wonders if there is anything special about Christmas. “Nothing original!” shouts the cast.

She sings about how maybe “Nothing’s Special,” and the ensemble answers with a rousing song, “Light Up the Night.” Everyone in our hemisphere sees long winter nights and short spans of daylight. We all have holidays that light up the night. Celebrations bring families together, and while darkness surrounds you, there’s something we all do and you can too: Light up the night with cheer and love and giving.

Well. This is the most intelligent and moving pageant I have ever seen. Kudos to Neal and all who had a part in it. I demand that next year we set up three video cameras, produce a dvd, and sell it as a fundraiser for the church. What talents we do employ.

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