I know, I’m not the first person you’ve heard rant on that topic, and Lord knows I won’t be the last. The very act of complaining about Christmas coming early has become one of the signs that Christmas is coming. There’s probably no cure for it; this is just how it is. All I can do at this point is try to personalize it and give it some positive spin. It’s like having an acquaintance who always shows up an hour early at your parties – you can try to ignore him if you like, but he’s not going to become invisible; you’re still going to know he’s there.
In the spirit of accommodating the apparent arrival of the holiday season, I want to relate a story on myself – an account of one of my very first stage performances. I was in the 8th grade at St. Ignatius of Antioch Elementary School in Detroit. The school was putting together a Christmas pageant for which every grade, one through eight, was preparing a segment. It was decided that the 8th grade would present a theatrical interpretation of the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” When it came time for Sister Mercita to cast the roles, she turned to me for the pivotal role of the Pear Tree, as I was the biggest kid in the class. Note that I was an even six feet tall at the time, which is pretty huge for an 8th grader. The fact that I ultimately topped out at a mere 6'2" came as quite a relief, by the way!
For the role of my counterpart, the partridge, we borrowed the smallest first grader and put a cardboard beak and cardboard feathers on him. As for my costume, I was given the task/creative opportunity to costume myself. Here’s what I did: I took the only green shirt I owned, which for the record was a short-sleeved green plaid. I purchased some pale green construction paper, cut it out into a few dozen pear shapes, and scotch-taped them all over the shirt.
At the end of each of the song’s dozen verses, the partridge would come running across the stage and I would boost him up to his perch atop my shoulders. I am happy to report that we only rehearsed this number a couple of times, as even the modest weight of our partridge threatened to give me what we would today refer to as a Repetitive Stress Injury. But the audience laughed and clapped and all went well.
I have sometimes wondered whether that performance might have helped plant the performing bug in me. To be sure, I had already been trying to make people laugh all of my life, but this was my first actual public stage performance. I suppose one might wonder the same of our trusty partridge, but I certainly don’t remember his name, nor do I expect I’d recognize him if I saw him on stage, unless he regularly performs in feathers, in which case I probably wouldn’t be in the audience.