Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mortifying Christmas Memories

In honour of the fact that I'm flying home for Christmas today (and, of course, because I'm procrastinating), I've decided to share one of my less comfortable Christmas memories.

It was the last autumn of 1987 and I was about to turn seven. My church decided that, instead of having our usual Christmas program, we were going to make a video that we'd watch at our Christmas dinner. One of our members had just started a university film program, and so this was going to give her a chance to practice some film editing.

An older couple wrote a play for us children to perform. They named it "Star Light, Star Bright." There would be a framing story about a little girl who loses her puppy, and an older girl who helps her, tells her about Jesus and the Christmas story, and teaches her to pray. Which would frame a re-enactment of the Christmas story, performed by all the other children.

They cast me as the little girl who loses her puppy, which in my mind confirmed my awesomeness. (It doesn't help that I'd been a flower girl in a wedding that year, too. I was sure I was the star of every show.) My tiny fame got to my head.

One evening, the whole church gathered in someone's living room and recorded ourselves singing Christmas carols for the video's soundtrack. Because there was going to be a scene where all the other little girls were the angels who appeared to the shepherds, we sang "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," and they had all the little girls gather around the (only) microphone to sing the line "Glory to the newborn king!" They included me in the group of singers, even though I wasn't one of the angels in the play. Convinced that I was the star of everything, I elbowed my way to the front of the group and hogged the microphone all to myself. Seriously, my mouth was pretty nearly on the microphone.

And then the day arrived for us to watch the video. And everyone watched as I over-acted my way through my lines -- "OH I DO WISH MY LITTLE TAM-TAM [the dog's name]. WOULD. COME. HOME." I was Tiny Shatner. And it wasn't helped by the fact that the people in charge had me do these big over-exaggerated hand actions that didn't have much to do with anything.

And then we got to the angels scene and the music started up. And everyone got to hear me shrieking over the microphone, "GLOOOWREEEEEEY TOOOO THE NEW-BORRRRRRN KING!" Over and over. Everything else was muffled, because I had been blocking the microphone.

They gave me a copy of the tape because I was one of the stars. And for a decade I avoided that tape at all costs, mortified at my own behaviour.

(Of course, now I'm some sort of sucker for punishment and tend to bring the tape along with me whenever I'm going to be gathered with the girls, so that we can all relive our personal traumas associated with that tape. Just ask Bronwyn about how they cast her as Joseph because there weren't enough boys and she was the tallest girl.)


Ky said...

That was a wonderful description of it.

may-b said...

Taaaam Tam. Taaaaam Tam.

Thanks for bringing up my own personal mortification. For years I was sure the only reason I was cast as Joseph was that they thought I was too ugly to be a real girl.

trillwing said...


In early elementary school, I could memorize the most lines of any of the students, and I had the loudest voice, so I was cast in the lead of school plays. First starring role: Mrs. Claus, complete w/spray-on gray in my hair.

In the more awkward years of later elementary school as my particular talent set (being loud, being tall) became less useful, I was usual cast as Male Railroad Worker #4 or something like that.

I was only ever in one Christmas pageant. I provided color commentary. Dressed as a camel.