“The Herdman’s were the worst kids in the whole history of the world. They lied, stole and smoked cigars… even the girls.”
Those first few lines were spoken clearly by a young actress as she stepped into the spotlight to begin the Greenwood Little Theater’s rendition of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” I’ve seen the play many times and her words sent me throttling back through time like Michael J. Fox in a DeLorean. The familiar words and carols transported me to Christmases past, times when I wasn’t worried about paying doctor’s bills or what Santa would bring for Christmas—back then I had perfect faith that the Big Guy would pull through.
The Herdman’s were a bad bunch of kids, six of them to be exact, who had never even heard the Christmas story. They began going to church because they hear tall tales of “all-you-can-eat” desserts and end up starring in the church’s Christmas Pageant. The congregation is in an uproar over a bunch of hoodlums playing Mary, Joseph, and every other meaningful role, but through their experience, the Herdman’s learn what Christmas is all about.
I sat in my seat transfixed, unable to keep the smile off of my face as my four-year-old and six-year-old laughed in all the right spots and gasped when Imogene Herdman got caught smoking a cigar in the ladies room of the church.
After a week of doctor’s visits and grown-up Christmas plans going down the drain, it was exactly what I needed to shake off a bad case of the Ebenezer Scrooges. I realized sitting in the theater that being a grownup is exactly the opposite of what you think it will be as a child.
You think once you reach adulthood your problems will be over, your life will be exactly what you want it to be. No one will tell you to go to bed at night, no one will tell you when to get up, and no one will stop you from eating dessert for dinner (which is pretty awesome.) But what you don’t realize is the same person who is tucking you into bed at night, is the same person waking you up in the morning, making sure you aren’t late for school, making your breakfast and packing your lunch.
I realized the best part of being a grownup is being able to decide when to act like a kid. Christmas is the perfect time of year to unleash your inner child. I had to smother my mother instincts when, during the play, the cast began singing Silent Night. Audience participation wasn’t really on the agenda, but my six-year-old, Aubrey, was moved to sing and from the fourth row, she out-sang some of the cast members. The mother in me wanted to shush her, but the kid in me wanted to join in—I compromised and kept my mouth shut.
This Christmas season I’m making a concerted effort to be more childlike. I want to relax and enjoy the season, whether that means singing inappropriately loud when no one asks me to, letting my kids eat Christmas cookies for dinner on occasion, or maybe just worrying a little less about how, what and where Santa does his Christmas shopping. I want to embrace the part of Christmas that matters; the part where your heart swells up so much with pure delight and happiness at all of your own blessings that you are moved to bless others.
Tears rolled down my cheeks when the Herdman’s, in lieu of frankincense, gave the ham out of their welfare basket as a gift to Baby Jesus and I thought to myself, “That is what Christmas is all about.”
Robin O’Bryant is a syndicated humor columnist and stay-at-home-mom to three daughters born within four years. She finally figured out where babies come from and got herself under control. Her first book, “Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves,” is rated #1 by reader reviews on amazon in two genres: Humor essays and parenting & families. Visit her at www.robinschicks.com. robin’s Chicks to learn helpful tips such as: how to breastfeed behind your back*, how to talk to your daughters about man parts, and how to write a proper gold fish obituary.
*only applies to lactating women with a dd cup or larger.