Review by Jodi Craiglow
The days are getting shorter. The elms and maples are riding out in a blaze of glory. So we know what that means… It’s time to pick out a Christmas Pageant!
If you’re like me, you know that sometimes it can be difficult to find a “new spin” on the Christmas story. I’ve seen Baby Jesus in candy shops, riding tumbleweed, under disco balls and everywhere in between. Sometimes it works – I’ll be the first to admit that it can be fun to think of the nativity from a different perspective. But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes a well-intentioned playwright can get so caught up in the flash and dazzle that the true message of Christmas – that the God of the universe personally came to live among us as one of us – can get lost in the shuffle.
With this thought in mind, as well as knowing that “the most wonderful time of the year” is also usually the busiest, Shirin Milton Snyder and her team created “The Real Meaning of Christmas.” Rather than drafting an elaborate script that requires months of rehearsals, set construction and costume design, they strip down the story to its essentials and encourage directors to make the pageant as simple or as involved as they choose.
Starting with Isaiah’s prophecy of the “Wonderful Counselor,” the narrator invites the audience to travel to Mary’s house, where the angel tells her about the special child she’ll bear. The focus then shifts to Joseph and his own angelic visitation. Traveling to Bethlehem with the couple, the audience shares in their search for a room and Jesus’ birth in a stable. Angels, shepherds and Magi join in the worship and celebration, and the play rounds out with a reminder that Christmas is about Jesus, who will be with us now and forever.
Along with the play come the following resources for throwing a Christmas party along with the pageant:
- About this Pageant
- The Christmas Pageant Party
- The Real Meaning of Christmas Story
- The Real Meaning of Christmas Pageant
- Message: The Real Meaning of Christmas
- Christmas Pageant FAQ
- The ABC’s… (and a little bit more) for a Very Merry Christmas Pageant!
- Problem Solving
- Game Ideas for Jesus’ Birthday Party
- Cast of Characters
Now, when I say this pageant is basic, I mean that it’s basic. The script is a mere six pages in length, and tells little more than the nativity story itself. But here’s the thing: in this day and age of glitzed-up, hyperactive Christmas festivities, sometimes a down-to-earth, straightforward retelling of the Christmas story is just what we need. Moreover, by cutting out all the “other stuff,” Snyder and her associates give us an undiluted account of the greatest story ever told.
As I’ve already mentioned, they encourage – and expect – directors to adapt this play to their own needs and specifications. If you want to construct elaborate sets and have designer costumes, there’s nothing stopping you. Likewise, if you want to use bed sheets and pillowcases, it works with their format as well. By keeping their plans simple, what the “Real Meaning of Christmas” team is able to accomplish is a purer focus on the miracle of Jesus’ birth, the true reason for the season. If you’re strapped for time, are tired of fluffy pageants or simply want a story that keeps the focus where it needs to be, I’d recommend that you give this “Last-Minute Christmas Pageant” a gander.