This morning we begin rehearsals at church for a play I wrote around an Amy Grant song for the kids to perform. The last play I wrote and directed was about ten years ago for kids at my last church in BC, and it was a bit of a bomb. I wrote too much dialogue, which ended up being forgotten when the kids were on stage, staring out at their adoring parents, and the microphones didn't work as I hoped so no one could even hear the dialogue that the kids were messing up.
It was not a success, but I was so much harder on myself in those days. I demanded perfection and nothing less. Having my own children has thankfully cured me of many of those demanding perfectionistic tendencies. I've had to learn to embrace the mess and chaos that children bring, and find a certain beauty in not expecting to have it all together.
I'm actually looking forward to the experience of directing this play. I wrote it with maximum simplicity of performance in mind. Most of the dialogue is off-stage, where a narrator can read the lines into a microphone while the action is dramatized on stage. This allows lots of room for teens and older kids to improvise and make it funnier/more interesting than I could have created on the written page.
I love the song because it talks about how commercial and stressful the Christmas season has become, and how in the midst of "shopping and buying and spending forever in line" we all need to find Christmas peace instead of trying to buy it. The chorus says, "I need a silent night, a holy night, to hear an angel voice, through the chaos and the noise. I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here, to end this crazy day with a silent night."
I first heard this song last Christmas, and it revolutionized the season for me. I've always been an early shopper and card-maker, and try to have most of the work of Christmas done by December 1st so I can relax and truly enjoy the buoyant feeling that the season brings. I'm hoping this play will do the same thing for the kids in it, and the parents and friends watching it.
Our society is trying to get us to buy into something that Christmas is diametrically opposed to. It's not about spending money. It's about giving of ourselves. It's not about outdoing our neighbours in the decorating department. It's about enjoying a cup of eggnog with friends and feeling peaceful as we gaze at a lit Christmas tree. I want more peace and joy, less stress and debt. I don't want to buy into the lie that I need to buy more and more each year. I want experiences that become memories which last forever, not more plastic destined for the landfill.
I'm sad to miss out on our wonderful pastor's musings at church over the next six weeks while we rehearse and then perform this play. But I'm glad for another chance to work with kids and have a completely different set of expectations this time around. I want to relax into it and have fun, which is the message of the play in the first place. It's not about nailing lines and marks. It's about the joy of the season, and celebrating the experience without demanding anything in return.