Let the Yuletide Roll
Few things are more beautiful than watching little kids sing at a holiday concert. They couldn’t be cuter. They are excited and happy to be up on stage with their parents and relatives watching them perform the songs they’ve rehearsed for weeks. Almost all the kids are dressed in their holiday best. The auditorium is filled with parents and relatives, and it doesn’t take long for the heat from all those people to warm the place. Parents are waving to their kids on stage or blocking other people’s view as they videotape the event. Cameras emit a sprinkle of flashes.
The school doesn’t have a separate auditorium, but there is a stage in the gym. Over time we figured out that if a program is held in the gym with all the lights on, people behave as if they’re at a sports event, leaving their seats, talking during the performance, chatting on their cell phones. If we turn down the lights, however, they act like they’re in an auditorium.
Anyway, the lights were turned down, the first graders started to sing, and it was magical. There is nothing like children’s voices raised in song to put you in the holiday spirit.
Unless, of course, one of the kids gets so hot and excited that he throws up on stage. Once that happens, the spell is broken because with little kids it doesn’t take much to incite a barf-o-rama (ask anyone who has ever chaperoned a bus trip with little kids). The principal and I raced to the outside doors to let the icy wind whistle through the gym, taking with it the offending smell. The principal radioed for custodians to come out from wherever they go to hide during an evening concert and get the cleanup started. The music teacher shushed the “eeeeewwww, gross” comments emanating from the little girls and hustled everybody off the stage until the custodians arrived.
Things eventually calmed down and the concert continued, but for me the spell was broken. I kept thinking about the little boy who started it all. His parents had found his coat, wrapped him up, and taken him home, his head buried in his father’s chest. His face was flushed either from fever or from mortification or both. I hoped, in the spirit of the holidays, that when he returned to school none of his classmates would remember the incident. I also hoped that Santa would bring him whatever he asked for.