Four years ago, when my kids were still in public school, I sat in the audience watching their school Christmas show and shed a little tear. The little ones sang some songs and I think they even danced – there is nothing I love more than to watch children belting out their favorite tunes. (One of the absolute perks of my job is that I get to watch this so often in chapel and assemblies across this country…there is nothing but joy when children sing.) And while they sing, the proud parents try to hold still so they can capture that twinkle in their eye on video. I love watching them too – especially if the kid has found the eyes of his or her parents and is singing only for them and then gives a little wave to top it all off. At Christmas, for me, the only thing better is when the entire audience joins in the fun and sings a good round of We Wish You a Merry Christmas, or my elementary school favorite, Feliz Navidad. I’m a real sucker for that holiday experience.
But four years ago, I didn’t leave with that warm family feeling. Instead, I watched a performance where the senior students had rewritten the lyrics and sang the Twelve Days of Christmas with each day involving a popular toy or game. I know that kids find this funny, but I was disappointed that these students were allowed to focus on material stuff. To make things worse, they had not been prepared and even they weren’t smiling. Now I know that my holiday show expectations are probably higher than most, but I couldn’t help but wonder: where was the joy of the holiday season?
Last night I saw Stuart McLean’s Christmas Concert, and it captured everything you could hope for – funny and thought-provoking stories as well as fun and beautiful music – and, yes, there were cute kids on stage and the entire Hamilton Place audience sang a couple of Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir songs (my favorite holiday show in Montreal… if you could get tickets….)
So as everyone is busy preparing for their holiday shows, I love thinking about this opportunity to do what our CAIS schools do best. We engage all kids. We challenge them to be kind and generous. We celebrate what is good. We include grandparents, so we bring together three generations.
We prepare our students so we excel at performance – we play music, we put on plays, and we sing – and I know our CAIS schools, so when I say we sing, you know we sing our hearts out. We strive to help our kids combine preparation with passion. That’s why our holiday shows hit that sweet spot, warm our hearts, and create memories for a lifetime.