When I got home last week, Mom told me that she had reserved a table for the family to attend our church’s annual Living Christmas Tree performance Saturday night. She said that this year’s performance promised to be a special treat because my dad was going to play a part. As soon as we received her assurance that it was not going to be a singing part, we told her we’d be glad to attend.
My daddy can shake the gates of hell with his preaching, but, bless his heart, cannot sing his way out of a paper bag.
My mother is what you would call one of those “prepared people”, and she’s been going to our home church long enough to know that she needed to be there thirty minutes before the doors were scheduled to open so that she could make her way to our reserved table, because those church people have been known to remove a “Reserved” sign or two if it meant getting closer to the action. Sure enough, by the time we kids rolled in, she had our table secured right on the front row, with a clear view of the manger scene where Daddy was going to make his debut as a wise man.
The beauty of living in rural Oklahoma is that many of the people in the church have livestock, and a church member had contributed a live burro, cow, horse, and an assortment of sheep and goats to round out the stable. It added an air of authenticity to the scene, and when I saw the animals being led in (with nothing but a twelve year old boy and a rope standing between them and me), I knew I was in for more than just your ordinary run of the mill Christmas show.
The program progressed smoothly – some lighthearted caroling, a group ensemble, some pretty lights and dramatic narration. And then, in the middle of the soaring soprano solo, the cow started to get a little restless. She tugged at her rope and swayed left and right. I got a little nervous because she didn’t seem happy to be there and the prospect of being within ten feet of an unhappy cow didn’t thrill me either. Just when I thought she was going to bolt, she turned around, aimed her hindquarters towards the front row (remember where we were seated?), lifted her tail, and proceeded to release the contents of Lake Superior from her bladder.
For what seemed to be half an hour.
Some gasped, others tittered, and it was all I could do not to guffaw and fall out on the floor. The choir tried to stifle a laugh and the music minister just shook his head. That air of authenticity took on a little more pungent tone, and very soon after the solo was over, a heretofore unknown character in the Christmas drama known as the Stable Janitor arrived with a very modern looking bucket and mop. I think he managed to clean the worst of it, but I did feel sorry for the barefoot angels that had to make their grand entrance and stand where the cow had left her mark. They managed to keep their beatific looks and didn’t curl nary a toe as they walked through the dampness.
It was the best Christmas pageant ever.
Have a nice day.