Christmas special

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My fox fur cap was slipping off my head and I awkwardly adjusted it back into position. I was in a television studio in Timmins and the year was 1968 and my whole class was part of a Christmas special show broadcasting live to northern Ontario. I portrayed one of the wise men who brought gifts to baby Jesus in Bethlehem as we sang The Little Drummer Boy.

Hundreds of miles north, our parents watched us proudly. Since it was pre-VCR days, only memories are left of this event, triggered every time I hear that particular Christmas carol. It is something that I have never forgotten, something I have always cherished – after all, who else can claim to have been on TV in those days? I don’t recall being in any other Christmas pageant since then.

Over the decades, Christmas pageants have become a mandatory spectacle for parents everywhere. For me, one of the proudest moments of my adult life was to hear my children sing quietly or loudly, while the teacher managed to control the chaos of shy children and noisy spectators. Even though the show for each one was mere minutes, it seemed that these moments are always remembered as one of the classic times of your life.

Recently, we were able to hear the children sing loud and clear, as this time it was my grandchild who performed with her class. We listened to the entire concert via a live broadcast on the local radio station, and I know for a fact that we actually heard much better than the people who attended the pageant because of the clarity of the recording – plus there was no background noise to drown out the children’s tiny vocal chords.

To spice things up, a play about Christmas on the brink of disaster being saved by Batman and Superman made the show quite interesting. If only it was streamed live like many of the meetings we are often subject to from our hallowed political bodies, it might make Christmas a digital memory to be shared forever.

My young granddaughter was a little worried about how Santa would be able to get around in Whapmagoostui since there wasn’t that much snow for anything that had skis or runners attached to it, so I told her that Santa was able to deliver presents anywhere in the world, even places that didn’t have snow. A quizzical look followed, then she brightened up, saying that the sled was probably made with little wheels just in case he had to land in the sand. That made sense to me.

Another question popped up on whether or not Santa would get too hot landing on a beach. I countered that by saying these days he had air-conditioning in his sled and even the reindeer had water bottles just in case. Another little girl asked whether Santa could eat ice cream all year round at the North Pole and I replied that most likely he ate cookies and drank milk for most of the year.

What do the elves eat? Do they eat candy canes too? Does an elf ever grow old? Can the reindeer fly around the world without eating? Does Mrs. Claus eat as well? I looked at the young questioner who obviously liked to eat anything and everything as it seemed food was her favourite topic. Yes, I replied, Santa and his family do get to eat pizza once in a while when they order takeout. No one wanted to believe that so we all agreed that Santa lives on cookies.

Speaking of cookies, I tell the wide-eyed and hungry looking kids that I’ll make some special cookies for Santa. My granddaughter tells me to make sure that I only give him one cookie so that we can have some too. I happily agree, saying that Santa is already overweight and should share his cookies with us.

Happy with the Q-&-A session, everyone quickly runs off to bed. My grandchild returns and asks me if Christmas was tomorrow, and sadly I tell her that she has to wait a few more weeks before Santa shows up. Good she says, he won’t eat my cookies for a while. Everyone was happy with that.

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