I’m a big fan of creating family traditions and Christmas is a great time for that. We’ve imported a load from my English childhood and my husband’s Welsh childhood, as well as creating our own for our American-born children. Food is important: My contribution is getting my mum to send Cadbury’s chocolate decorations for the tree (and then eating them) and my husband makes sausage rolls with the kids (and then eats them – the sausage rolls, not the kids).
As you might expect from a librarian, a lot of our traditions revolve around books. My husband likes to read the nativity story to the children from an ancient early reader that his parents read to him. He also likes to read Dylan Thomas‘s A Child’s Christmas in Wales, hamming up the Welsh accent. More recently we discovered, and now cherish and read every year, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
It’s a sweet story about a small town Christmas pageant, which is threatened by the casting of the unruly Herdman children in all the major roles. But these hooligans bring an innocence and newness to the Christmas story that gives a fresh meaning to it for the initially skeptical townsfolk.
We are not a particularly religious family, but we are all moved by Imogene’s portrayal of Mary as a scared refugee and new mother; and by the Wise Men’s gift of a ham from the Herdman family’s Christmas Basket. And for many days afterwards, we all shout at random moments: “Hey! Unto you a child is born!” just like Gladys hollers at the shepherds.
In the same way that the Herdmans bring new meaning to the Christmas story to their audience, so The Best Christmas Pageant Ever helps my family to reflect on the season in a different way.