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It's Christmas pageant time, at least for those of us with kids or grandkids young and lucky enough to be participating in such things at their day cares, churches or schools that still allow such things.

I was fortunate enough to have attended a Catholic elementary school, and the pageant was just about the biggest event of the entire year. The preparation for it seemed to start around Halloween, but it was probably Thanksgiving. All I know is it consumed the entire month of December.

We'd first practice in our classrooms, but as the day neared, we march over to the gym for rehearsal. It was electric.

The script, if you will, was the same every year with each class being assigned a certain song. But the best part was each student had to create their own costume. We made big stockings out of a full sheet of poster board, for example.

There were two truly memorable years for me. The fifth-graders sang "Little Drummer Boy," and the students would march around the gym playing the song on real drums. Or at least as real as you could get them.

Having a percussionist for a brother, I carried a real snare drum, which seemed like a real cool thing at first, and it was, but those things get heavy hanging from a rope around your neck over time.

The best year was eighth-grade because that meant some of us would get to work the Nativity scene and the even luckier ones would get to be the stage crew. Mary, Joseph and the Magi needed to be at most of the rehearsals, so they missed a lot of class. I was a Magi, and apparently we had to learn about walking, standing and looking Magi-like.

But the sound and lighting guys had to be there all the time and never went to class in December. Looking back, I realize I needed a better agent, but it was a great time nonetheless.

Years later, as we exited the car at my kids' day care prior to their pageant, our then 5-year-old announced that we were going to need to cover his newborn sister's ears during the show. It was very random and we didn't think much of it at the time.

It made perfect sense later when his class started singing "The Twelve Days of Christmas." He had been given the "And a partridge in a pear tree" line and had clearly been instructed to sing it so the guy in the back row could hear it.

Twelve times he sang to the back row, and the laughs got bigger and so did the ham in him. It was pretty great.

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Barry Courter / Staff Photo by Robin Rudd

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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