Our church has a regular Christmas party, as do most churches. And, yes, there is the usual program with singing and a reading of some sort and more singing and hopefully some musical numbers which include jazzy piano, lots of guitars and sometimes other instruments, since we have quite a bit of talent in our congregation amongst the grown up crowd. And we always have dinner with lots of Do-You-Really-Want-to-Know-What's-In-That-Dish Potluck items to complement the cheap ham bought at the local grocery store heated up especially for this night. And the jewel of the evening is the visit from Santa. There were a few years when the Jolly Man didn't get to come and I was as bummed as the kids.
One of the best things about the Christmas party is the ability to hang out with my own friends while the children run the halls with their friends, causing all sorts of havoc, thus the need for ALL doors to be shut and locked. While they run and eat candy, run some more while grabbing more handfuls of candy, you can feel the excitement build during the musical program. And I get to gab socially with the few people who deem themselves lowly enough to associate with me and my conversation which always seem to run in the inappropriate direction no matter how hard I try to stay calm and good.
This year the under-12 children sang 'Away In the Manger'. The boys were supposed to sing the non-soprano part of the chorus in an attempt to show their manliness before their voice makes that change separating them from the females. Of course, Baby, against all orders, had left the room as the program dragged on longer and longer, and was nowhere to be found for his starring moment. We have few children in our congregation and very few boys, and he is the loudest singer amongst the boys. I'd been waiting for his boisterous "Asleep, Asleep" so completely out of tune and out of style with the reverent song. While Olaf tried to find him the song was done and over and the children were running around again, waiting for that special moment when Santa would arrive. Of course he didn't miss the moment, only we did since we ( as all parents) consider our child the most precious of all children. Magically, he showed up as soon as it was over.
About 4-5 years ago Santa came at the end of the party. He let all the kids sit on his lap, tug on his beard, and excitedly relay what they wanted for Christmas to the Man-Who-Delivers. There was lots of candy eaten by the young children, creating a higher level of excitement than needed. Just knowing The Man is coming is enough to send a child into a tizzy fit, coupled with candy and excessive running is a recipe for heart attacks. Good thing children still have clean arteries. This year Calvin and Middle Child had been asking us how Santa had gotten to the church. We explained the reindeer had dropped him off and were probably waiting on the roof. Of course, Calvin didn't believe everything we told him by this point of his life and so he checked. About a minute after Santa left he came running back into the church hollering, "Santa drives a Ford truck just like us!"
But the best year was when Calvin was only four. The children were once again putting on a program, except that was the whole program. They were seated on the stage for the whole Christmas program, never a recipe for success with my children. Calvin was only four and had never sat in front of a large crowd. We tried to get him to sit on the stand so he could sing, but he wouldn't. We suggested he sit next to Gus, his best friend, but even that didn't entice him to sit in front of all those scary people. Finally we gave up and let him sit with us and watch the progam. Near the end he decided it didn't seem to scary and went up on the stage to sit by Gus. But by this time another boy, Alex who would later become Calvin's other best friend, had decided he was sitting by Gus and had been the whole time. He wasn't about to give his seat up so easily. Calvin wasn't going down without a fight, he slugged that other boy. But the other boy was pretty tough to. They began to yell at each other as both parents came running to break up the fight and put an end to the embarrassment. We still, to this day, get comments about the Christmas fight. No warm fuzzy stories from my family about some boy claiming there really is room in his Inn for Mary & Joseph. Nope, we just provide ringside entertainment during the shepherd's vigil.