Last week I included a hyper link to a new Nativity video that was released by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir this year. I've probably watched that video 10 times this week. It is magical. You should watch it again by clicking HERE. As I was watching it, I was reminded of my next holiday favorite and that are children's nativities and my favorite short story, "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson.
Before we get any further, let's just talk about that super cute and sassy redhead angel in the photos above! You wonder where the buns began? Right here, folks. This was a nativity photo shoot for church that we did when I was about 4 and I still love looking at the photos. I had my mother send them to me in electronic form so I could share them with all of you. There is something so stinkin cute about rambunctious children coming together to re-create one of the most important stories of Christianity. When I was growing up we would always read the story of Christ's birth as a family on Christmas Eve, but those years that we acted it out (when we had a real baby that could be Baby Jesus in human form, not just some lame doll) were so much more memorable and enjoyable. Notice the theme that memories vs. things prospered in my household? I also remember another year that we had a nativity with all the church kids in our congregation and I was Mary and my crush was Joseph. How dreamy????? We were 11, but it was perfection. Every time I see his family when I go home to visit I giggle inside because I still think of my time as Mary fondly. He was a pretty dishy Joseph even for a man of 11.
As you've probably gathered from reading my blog posts, I am a big fan of the technique, "how can I apply this to real life?" So, here's the deal. Living in Ogden means I am surrounded by children who are living in conditions far worse than I care to admit. My lovely friend, Sarah aka Ethel, teaches kindergarten at a local inner-city school and every year she tells me about her kids whose primary residence is the homeless shelter. Sigh. That is just shitty for them. The other day when I was driving to work, one of the school districts was busing kids to a local theater to see "The Nutcracker." It's the same school district as Sarah so I knew that a good portion of these kids were probably elated to have a fancy outing in the middle of their school week. I happened to catch a green light while turning left so I had to wait for like 40 kids to run across the street. As I sat in my car, I watched a child run across in a t-shirt that looked like a tent and a dirty little face and matted hair. And then I thought of this book. I thought of crusty Imogene as Mary and Gladys as she says, "Hey! Unto you a child is born!" and then I got all misty eyed and in mamma bear mode and almost missed my opportunity to turn. I've been tasked with running the Facebook page for the Weber-Morgan Children's Justice Center and I posted some interesting, but very sad, content this week about children who are neglected.
Did you know?
1. Children exposed to maltreatment are at increased risk of educational underachievement, including lower verbal and math scores.
2. Neglected children have poorer academic performance than physically maltreated children.
3. Maltreated children have higher rates of absenteeism from school than non-maltreated peers.
4. Maltreated children are at substantially higher risk than non-maltreated children of repeating a grade.
5. Maltreated children are at increased risk of dropping out of school before high school graduation.
6. Maltreated children are more likely to be referred for special education services.
7. Maltreated children are more likely than their peers to exhibit poor social skills and classroom behavior problems.
8. A child’s risk of poor academic functioning is substantially heightened by multiple victimizations.
Ref: National Children's Advocacy Center "As A Matter of Fact: The Relationship Between Child Maltreatment and Academic Achievement"
That, my lovelies, is sad, sad and sad. I often wonder what the author was really trying to prove when she set out to write "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." Was she proving that kids are hilarious, but can still portray the story of Jesus' birth in a moving and semi-spiritual manner OR was she trying to make a point about watching out for the kids in our communities who are probably hooligans more for the attention and seeking of love than just being little punks? No matter her motive, I am so grateful that she created this story because it makes my heart happy and I STILL laugh out loud a lot when the pageant directors try to explain the story to the Herdman kids and they are nearly saying "what the hell" for chapters on end.
The moral of the story: Kids are always going to be kids and generally that involves hooliganism and cuteness wrapped all into one. But, if we will show some compassion and take heed to look out for the kids who really have no one else to love them, we will be richly blessed and so will they. You can do it. I can do it.
Until next time, my lovelies!