Thursday 18 December 2008

Christmas Plays . . .

Jest 'Fore Christmas

FATHER calls me William,

sister calls me Will,
Mother calls me Willie

but the fellers call me Bill!
Mighty glad I ain't a girl---ruther be a boy,
Without them sashes curls an' things

that's worn by Fauntleroy!
Love to chawnk green apples

an' go swimmin' in the lake--
Hate to take the castor-ile they give for belly-ache!
'Most all the time, the whole year round,

there ain't no flies on me,
But jest'fore Christmas I'm as good as I kin be!

Got a yeller dog named Sport, sick him on the cat.
First thing she knows she doesn't know where she is at!
Got a clipper sled, an' when us kids goes out to slide,
'Long comes the grocery cart, an' we all hook a ride!
But sometimes when the grocery man is worrited an' cross,
He reaches at us with his whip, an' larrups up his hoss,
An' then I laff an' holler, "Oh, ye never teched me!"
But jest'fore Christmas I'm as good as I kin be!

Gran'ma says she hopes that when I git to be a man,
I'll be a missionarer like her oldest brother, Dan,
As was et up by the cannibals that live in Ceylon's Isle,
Where every prospeck pleases, an' only man is vile!
But gran'ma she has never been to see a Wild West show,
Nor read the life of Daniel Boone, or else I guess she'd know
That Buff'lo Bill an' cowboys is good enough for me!
Excep' jest 'fore Christmas, when I'm as good as I kin be!

And then old Sport he hangs around, so solemn-like an' still,
His eyes they seem a-sayin': "What's the matter, little Bill?"
The old cat sneaks down off her perch an' wonders what's become
Of them two enemies of hern that used to make things hum!
But I am so perlite an' tend so earnestly to biz,
That mother says to father: "How improved our Willie is!"
But father, havin' been a boy hisself, suspicions me
When, jest 'fore Christmas, I'm as good as I kin be!

For Christmas, with its lots an' lots of candies, cakes an' toys,
Was made, they say, for proper kids an' not for naughty boys;
So wash yer face an' bresh yer hair, an' mind yer p's and q's,
And don't bust out yer pantaloons, and don't wear out yer shoes;
Say "Yessum" to the ladies, and "Yessur" to the men,
An' when they's company, don'a pass yer plate for pie again;
But, thinkin' of the things yer'd like to see upon that tree,
Jest 'fore Christmas be as good as yer kin be!

~Eugene Field

When I was five years old, I could recite this poem from the beginning to the end, as well as "Twas the Night Before Christmas." The town we were living in at the time used to put on a huge Christmas Pageant every year, and I'm afraid I had a bit of a stage mom. My mother had been a great orator and debater when she was at school, and as her oldest child, I'm afraid she had her hopes pinned on me to follow in her footsteps. I must have cured her of that, because my younger sister and brother were never put through this same experience.

I have to confess that, at the age of five I didn't really care all that much. I was a bit of a ham anyways, and it didn't bother me overly much to get up in front of people and sing or recite anything. I can remember reciting this poem and making all sorts of faces, as my voice rang out with expression, and shaking my fist like a bad little boy. It would be really neat if my parents had some film of my performance, but alas . . . a movie camera was beyond their means.

The town Christmas concert used to be a really big thing each year, and the town would begin preparing for it long about mid September. There were be all sorts of things included in it . . . carol singing, Christmas recitations etc., culminating at the end with the Nativity of course. I always wanted to be one of the slave girls fanning King Herod. Their costumes, which seemed quite skimpy at the time, but hardly by today's standards, always seemed quite exotic and beautiful, and they got to hold a huge fan, which looked like fun to me! Besides . . . they got to wear make-up.

They would hold these concerts in the town auditorium over several nights and the place would be filled to the brim with standing room only each night. They were special nights and the excitement would be so thick in the air that you could cut it with a knife I am sure! I can remember it all feeling very wonderful as a part of the audiance and as an actual performer . . . well, that was a very special feeling indeed.

I am not sure towns put on these types of concerts anymore. More's the pity. I think they helped to foster a real sense of community and of belonging to something far larger than yourself. I know that when my children were going to school, there would be an annual *Winter Festival Play* each year put on by the elementary school. They dared not call it a Christmas Concert for fear of offending anyone. It was always really hard to get a seat in the school gym on the night, and you had to get there really early if you were going to be able to find a seat that was in a good viewing position, or even a seat at all. Some parents always ended up having to stand up for the whole thing. I have watched my children cavort about the stage at various times as letters, or stockings or elves. I've watched them stand in choirs, with tinsel wrapped around their little heads as they rolled their eyes coz they didn't really want to be there (read sons here), and I've stood as a proud parent watching and thinking that my child was the best performer of all.

I miss those days . . .

Each year the C of E church in our local village puts on a Christingle service on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. Todd and I always walk down to watch it. There is that same feeling there that used to be abundant when I was a child, that special feeling of excitement. The church is packed with children dressed as angels, or shepherds and the seats are packed with proud family members. They put on a nativity play and it is so sweet to watch. Carols are sung, and then at the end each child is presented with a Christingle. A big round orange with a lit candle stuck into the top, it's middle banded with a red ribbon and four skewers of sweeties sticking out the top.

Christingle servicse are held in churches, usually between Advent and Candlemas. It is an excellent opportunity for people of all ages to join in, using oranges to create visible symbols of the Christian message.

The Christingle has its origins in a Moravian children's service held in a castle in Germany on Christmas Eve in 1747. The bishop conducting the informal service gave each child a lighted candle, tied with a red ribbon, in memory of the Saviour's coming which he said has kindled a flame in each heart which keeps burning "to His joy, and our happiness".

Much later, this simple candle was replaced by a more elaborate Christingle which is rich in symbolism. Our modern Christingle consists of:

an orange . . . representing the world
a red ribbon, tied round the orange . . . representing the blood of Jesus
fruits and sweets, skewered on 4 cocktail sticks which are pushed into the orange . . . representing God's good gifts - the fruits of the earth and the four seasons
a lighted candle, pushed into the centre of the orange . . . representing Christ, the light of the world

It's a really wonderful tradition and quite old fashioned, and Todd and I just love to attend this service. We love to see the little kiddies all dressed up and we love to watch the nativity play and we love to feel of their excitment as they parade around the church to receive their Christingle and as they walk carefully back to their seats holding their oranges and trying not to catch anything on fire with the candle. I'm actually surprised that the Health and Safety demons have not put a stop to this wonderful tradition like they have done to a lot of others, and I hope that they never do.

Well, there is another family tradition that has been going on in my family for years. It seems that it can never be Christmas without one of another of us coming down with a cold or flu. Todd has been nursing a cold for a couple of weeks now. Thankfully so far it has missed me. There's been a lot of these being made between the big house and here at the cottage though. This is my cure for the common cold. It doesn't really cure it, but it does help you to feel a bit better from time to time . . . I can remember an old plumber who came to work on my pipes once. I had a terrible cold and he told me to mash about six cloves of garlic and eat them between some bread and butter. (yes, he was European) I have never tried it however, my desire to keep my family and friends close by over-riding the fear of them wanting to stay as far away from me as possible, but I have drunk plenty of these!

*Marie's Cold Curative Drink*
Makes 1

This is quite nice. The vitamin C from the lemon is good for you and the honey soothes your throat. Not sure what the gingerroot does, but it does make it all taste quite exotic. Perhaps it soothes your tummy.

Boiling water
the peel of half a lemon, cut in one long piece
the juice of half a lemon
one slice of fresh ginger-root, peeled and bruised
1 tsp of honey

Put the lemon peel, lemon juice and ginger-root into a mug. Pour boiling water over all and allow to steep for about 5 or 6 minutes. Stir in the honey and sip. Repeat as necessary. It may not cure your cold, but it will help you to feel better.

PS - on a side note, we watched the Royal Variety Concert last night on the telly and really enjoyed it. Cliff Richard and the Shadows, Take That, Leona Lewis, it was all really good. I especially enjoyed the music put on from the musical "Jersey Boys", which is the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It was sooo good! Why don't they put these musicals out on DVD?


  1. Your cold cure drink sounds so good. Just wanted to let you know that I recently read that ginger is a curative for colds. I do enjoy you journal.

  2. Lovely post Marie, I love the virtual snow in your drwas and pictures, so nice, xxxGloria (Tiday im sending you a christmas card, I hope arrive soon)

  3. Hi Marie! I've been absent so long you'll have forgotten me soon. I love that poem. I used to have to perform one on New Year's Eve called "What's the Good of a Birthday...". I can't remember all of it now but I do remember the New Year had not been properly rung in until I'd sat there on the floor in the middle of the aunties and uncles and recited it!

    love, Angie, xx

  4. Wonderful Christmas story! That drink sounds good, I may make me one today! My ear is still stopped up, I may have to go to the doctor if it won't get better. Much love, Raquel XO

  5. your cold cure drink has come just in time for me! i woke up this morning with my throat sore:( i don't feel terrible, but a little under the weather. i hope it doesn't progress to something worse! i'm crossing my fingers its just a little cold. i'll have to try out your drink recipe!

    and i had never heard of a Christingle. how neat! i love that picture with everyone holding their orange candles. so pretty:) what a neat tradition!

  6. Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons were my favorite group. I have seen the Jersey Boys on TV a few times and am REALLY impressed. I can't wait to see it :)
    Love your pages and stories :)

    Marilyn In Miami :)

  7. A lovely character filled story Marie. I can imagine you reciting it..accent and all! Lol!
    Full of Tom Sawyer langueage use.
    I'm hoping to make our local church's Christingle too.

    The ginger ingredient in your cold remedy helps to open up the blood vessels and aid the circulation. Great for stuffy noses.
    A wonderful entry my friend.
    Jeanie xxx

  8. I just love seeing your pictures and hearing your stories Marie! We also love to go to Christmas Eve services here. We started doing it when we lived in New York and still try to go every year. I love the way it a sense of quiet and holiness and the true meaning of Christmas in before all craziness of Christmas morning.

    Thanks too for the cold cure recipe. I am sure I will need it this winter as it seems one of my kids is always sick. I hope your Todd feels better soon!!!


  9. I too was a bit of a ham and performer. In Young Women's when I was younger, they had a speech competion, and I won on the Stake level at age 12. It is funny how we remember those things. The verses we learn as children surely seem to stay with us the best. Your drink is a favorite of my mother as well. Good for what ails you!

  10. Your cold cure sounds like it is warm and soothing. Can I try it anyway...even if I don't have a cold???

    Maybe I should give it to my laptop. Yesterday it rallied for a few minutes and I thought it was getter better with the new cord attached....but alas....I guess that it was the last rally before its demise.... for it then shut off never to wake up again. So, now I am told it will have to get a new motherboard.....and I thought I was being a good mother!!

    I am now on our other computer which is old and tired. It takes her forever to warm up and even longer to navigate from place to place. I guess that she is a lot like me in that way.... oh well, she is better than nothing, but she is driving my crazy. With all the work I have to do I don't have time to spend hours with her. (maybe she just needs company since I am usually visiting my laptop and not her) At any rate, I may not drop by every day to see I would like to....because this poor old gal is making my blood pressure rise. I wouldn't want to have a stroke before Christmas!!!

    Enjoy your Christingle service. It sounds so nice. I do not know of anything like it around here. I wish that I did.

    I send love.... I will be thinking of you everyday and I will check back in when I can. Love, Lura

  11. That's our favourite drink at this time of year when everybody has cold.

    Small would have been in his first nativity play this year but missed it through illness... very sad :(

  12. Lovely post today all great stories and poem. It's Christmas in our house I really object to the word offend when it comes to Christmas. Why should it offend. Sorry not at my best today.

  13. Christingle sounds like a wonderful tradition and I love the symbolism of the gift of an orange.
    we are all fighting colds here to. that drink sounds like it would sooth the throat.
    take care

  14. A lovely post Marie and that cold cure of yours sounds good!

  15. Marie, it's been YEARS since I've read that poem... I loved it! I can still hear my dearly departed Granny reading it to me...What special memories you brought back for me! Thank you ever so much!!

  16. I was in Christmas plays when I was in kindergarten and first grade! I was a firefly and we sang "This little light of mine" and waved flashlights around. I always liked the spring plays better because I was a groovy chicken and Little Red Riding Hood. Did I ever tell you about the groovy chicken dance? I'll e-mail you about it when I get to Shreveport tomomrow. We're leaving pretty early, so I may not e-mail until Saturday!

  17. I don't have a cold, but your drink sure sounds yummy! I love lemon, and I love ginger!

    We'll have to make this for sure!


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