My Christmas concert hell
Remembering your knickers and trying not to be sick are two good ways to help Mum keep her head at the end of term show, finds Alice Castle.
Every Christmas, my girls and I snuggle up and watch Love Actually and I always laugh till I cry at the part where Emma Thompson’s daughter announces she has landed the part of First Lobster in the Nativity play.
‘You mean there was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?’ asks Emma, incredulous. ‘Well, duh!’ says her child.
The girls don’t realise but I’m laughing because it reminds me of all the plays I have sat through in their names, quite a few of which, now shoot me as a bad mother, have frankly made stray crustaceans in the manger look perfectly plausible.
Child Two’s first Christmas play set the tone. She was at the European School in Brussels, she was three years old, and all the parents were told firmly that there would be no religious overtones to the end of term celebration, as that would be ‘inappropriate’.
So, from more or less the moment she started at the school in September, she began rigorous drilling in singing and dancing as a snowflake.
By early December, she and her tiny friends were about as good as it gets in the snowflake stakes. By the end of term, though, things were starting to slide backwards as the children started to suspect there might be more to school and, indeed life, than constant snowflake practice.
And the final performance was not helped by the fact that the teacher gave us all the wrong time.
This meant the contingent of English parents turned up half an hour after the Spanish, French and German parents, and missed their own offsprings’ stellar moments.
We were, though, in plenty of time to see the Germans performing a full version of the Nativity, featuring the baby Jesus, Joseph, wise men and a Virgin Mary who, the moment the rather realistic birth was over, got up and played a violin solo of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Twice.
I was thrilled when it turned out that at the next Christmas concert, Child Two herself would be playing the violin solo, though I worried slightly for the other parents, who might not be as attuned as we were in picking out the melodies during her playing.
On the day, all went well, we turned up at the right time and were duly delighted. On the way home, Child Two announced loudly that it was a very good thing that she hadn’t fallen over during the performance.
Why, we asked, a little surprised? ‘Because I’m not wearing any knickers, of course,’ she announced in matter-of-fact tones.
By the time the next year’s festivities arrived, I was braced for anything. Except, perhaps, for Child One’s best friend turning to her during the concert, and vomiting copiously in her lap.
Naturally they were sitting in the front row and everyone saw Child One yelling for help. We consoled ourselves that she was, at least, wearing knickers, as she had to sit in them for the rest of the concert.
By the time we arrived in the UK, minus Mr X and plus True Love, I had pretty much decided the Christmas Concert was the school’s equivalent of an assault course. If the girls got through it with an audience and wearing all their clothes, I considered it a very good year indeed.
I wasn’t entirely surprised when, at Child One’s first UK concert, the girl playing the harp at the end of her row fainted on top of Child One, who then collapsed sideways, taking the rest of the pew with her like a row of dominoes.
The next year, it was True Love who surpassed himself by turning up late in a massive fur coat, getting more attention than any lobster. He then fell soundly asleep while we all sang O Come All Ye Faithful to the accompaniment of a thunderous church organ.
This year, well, let’s just say I’m looking forward to it. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
- Do you have any nativity disasters you'd like to share like Alice or are your little angels perfect performers in the nativity?
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