By Jason Menard
My hollies are a little less jolly today. Earlier we found out that, as a result of multiple school closures caused by Snowmageddon, Son of Snowmageddon, and Hey?-Isn’t-This Just-a-Normal-Canadian-Winter-But-We’ve-Been-Spoiled-By-Higher-Than-Average-Temperatures-Lately-And-Why-Are-You-Still-Not-Driving-On-Snow-Tires-Ageddon, the highlight of my holiday season has been postponed into the New Year.
Yes, it’s true. The annual Christmas pageant has been cancelled. So where else am I going to find that wonderfully festive combination of shock and awe? This is the most wonderful time of the year – especially for those of us with school-aged children. We approach this day with equal parts anticipation and dread!
For years now, this symphony of the surreal has been my launching point into the festive mood!
And I’m not the only one. A couple of years ago, I called my parents to remind them of the event and the exchange went like this:
“Remember, the show’s at 6:30. We’ve got to be there at 6 with Juliana.”
“Oh, we’ll get there a little after that to make sure we get good seats,” my mom said.
“Really? You actually want to get close to this carnage?”
“Of course, we want to be able to see everything. It’s so bad it’s good.”
I’ll leave the name of the school out to protect the not-so-innocent. My daughter’s school has maybe, MAYBE, 300 kids. It’s a school for kids of parents for whom French is their first language. And each year we’re delightfully amazed at the lack of organization, planning, and execution.
Listen, I’m not so cold-hearted as to mock little kids for trying. In fact, the younger kids are usually the highlight. After all, who doesn’t enjoy watching five and six year olds sway and step to the rhythm (even if it’s often times the one in their heads). And although that sentence may come across as sarcastic, it’s really not intended to be.
Oh, and my daughter consistently brings her A-game and shines. Not that I’m biased at all.
But it’s the older kids — the ones who fancy themselves dancers, or acrobats, or — I guess — ninjas that kill me. My daughter is in Grade 4, so she’s on the precipice of falling into this dangerous trap.
I remember one year some — how shall I put this delicately — enthusiastically energetic child was doing a routine of some sort. It mainly consisted of him throwing himself around the stage onto crash mats. We all watched with equal parts fascination, dread, and horror at what he was doing — wondering whether we should call the ambulance in anticipation.
Dances are usually comprised of one kid that’s OK — he or she has obviously taken lessons — and four or five of Passable Dancer Kid’s friends. I can just imagine how the planning of this routine goes:
Passable Dancer Kid: “Hey, we should do a dance. I’ll choreograph it and it’ll be great!”
PDK’s Friends: “Uhm… sure. But we don’t dance.”
PDK: “No problem! I’ll teach you… It’ll rock!”
PDK F: “Yeah, but you’ve only taken six weeks of dance class.”
PDK: “Let’s do it. We’ll start rehearsing now… Oh, is that a Justin Bieber video?”
And the resulting glorified hokey pokey (emphasis on the hokey) usually results in the audience sitting in stunned silence — waiting until it’s over to offer polite encouragement through half-hearted clapping.
One year we started clapping after what seemed like hours of “dance” only to find it was a dramatic pause (I’m being generous. It was a pause where everyone forgot the next steps… but I digress) and they started up again. Another year, I believe the “African”-inspired dance strained relations between Canada and that continent for months.
This year offered the potential for the truly spectacular. The production was inspired by Alice in Wonderland, and my daughter’s class was doing a song and dance. Confused? So am I. But it would have been amazing to see.
Yes, they often tread into cheesy territory (one year was a 70’s-inspired version of Non, non, rien n’a changé*. Previously she veered headlong into the land of fromage the Achy Breaky Dance. Seriously. Six year olds singing and line dancing to a French version of the Billy Ray, uhm, classic? Can you get better than that? Last year Le Petit Prince, living up to its gloriously surreal potential), but the annual Christmas pageant is one guilty pleasure that you can absolutely feel proud about sharing.
With today’s cancellation, my halls are a little less decked; my holly’s a little less jolly. Christmas Pageant Day won’t be around to get me in the festive mood. That said, they’re going to be putting on the show in January – and I can’t think of a better way to kick off the New Year!
The funniest part of this was that the play was cancelled due to a lack of practice opportunities. And that would have made it even more spectacular in the end.
*ANGLO CONTEXT AID — Watch a YouTube version of the original Non, non, rien n’a changé by Les Poppys here! Think they lip synched the performance? Well, it’s forgivable considering the complexity of the choreography. I mean BOTH hands on the hips. Swaying from SIDE to SIDE? I almost fell out of my chair thinking about it. I refuse to post the original Achy Breaky Heart. Some mullets are meant to stay buried.