One of the highlights of my preschool Christmases was the annual concert put on by the students of the Amaranth Elementary School. The entire community came out, packing into the local hall, bundled in our boots and parkas. We’d watch the kids perform and at the end of the night, Santa Claus showed up with a gift for every kid—even those of us too little to go to school. Even at that age, I knew Santa was pretend. It didn’t matter. I was all about the present.
Oddly enough, the concert I remember best was the one I had to miss. I’d come down with a dreadful cold and sore throat and tried to convince my parents I was well enough to attend. They weren’t buying it. Dad stayed home with me, if I remember right. My deep disappointment at having to stay behind was reduced when Mom and my siblings returned, bringing my still wrapped gift from Santa. It was a jigsaw puzzle.
By the time I hit Grade One (we had no Kindergarten), I felt more than ready to perform in my first Christmas concert. Our teacher, Mrs. Cooper, organized her class into a living tree. Dressed in green crepe paper and gold tinsel, we were somehow stacked in layers to form a glorious living Christmas tree. Some kids were sparkly ornaments. Others, decked out in wrapping paper, represented the gifts underneath. Each had a line to say.
If anyone thought to take a picture, I have never seen it—which is probably just as well. No photograph, especially in black and white, could ever reproduce the magnificence of that tree in my brain’s memory bank.
Of course, somebody had to play the star at the top. I always figured I was chosen for this distinction because I was the tallest in the class. Whatever the reason, I was thrilled. But how would I ever memorize all those lines?
Big sister helped, and I went over and over them. And over them. The night of the event, I remember our principal lifting me to the top of the step ladder or whatever they’d rigged up, decked out in shining gold tinsel and feeling like a star indeed. More than a half century later, I still remember my lines:
“I am the star, see its bright Christmas light
That shone on the manger that first Christmas night!”
Although I have since memorized many lines, none have stuck like the ones I learned as a six-year-old.
Did that first taste of the spotlight kindle inside me a flame which would lead to a lifelong interest in the stage and all things theatrical? Could be. I do know that when God places a dream in your heart, it does not easily die. And if it does, it wasn’t God who killed it.
I see three lessons here for parents of young children. One, if you want your children to believe you about God (or anything else), don’t lie to them about Santa Claus. Two, whatever you want your kids to remember forever, get it into their heads early! And third, pay attention to their engagement level at concerts. You might just see a noteworthy glimpse into their future—a passion which you can play an important role in nurturing.