The Christmas Program That Almost Wasn’t

Was it a coincidence or was it a gift from God? We had the poem called, “Twas the Night of Christ’s Birth,” by Donna Miles. We had the costumes that we borrowed from a local church. We had the idea of reading the poem and letting children bring it to life by posing for many different scenes in the poem as it was read. We had the second part of the program rehearsed and ready. The resident choir was ready to sing carols after the poem was read. What we didn’t have yet, were the children to wear the costumes and be in the program.

On the day of the practice for the program one child was there. Due to this disappointing turn out for the practice session I posted more signs and talked to lots of people asking them to bring their children to work to participate in the program on Wednesday. (I thought to myself “we can do this without a rehearsal, right?”) I was not ready to give up on the idea although I was starting to think I needed a back-up plan. And yes, I prayed that there would be children for our program but my prayer was tainted with a small amount of cynicism. My rationale mind was saying, “you better have a back-up plan because there will be no children.”

It was Wednesday at 1:00pm and I began getting ready for the program that would take place at 2:30. I knew for sure that two children were going to participate because their moms told me they would be there. I needed more than two children but strangely I still had this irrational hope that we would have children for the program. At 1:30 our activities director said, “the children are here.” I went into our living room and there were several parents with their children.

I noticed that the children had on Christmas attire and reindeer ears but I just went in with the costumes and started asking the children who wanted to be Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds or kings. The kids were very enthusiastic and one child asked, “We are going to be in a program?” I said, “Yes we are having a program and you arrived just in time.” When I ran out of children and said I needed a few more shepherds two of the moms volunteered to be shepherds! The dad who was there asked me if he could do anything to help. I said, “Yes, you can read the poem.” We had the program and the residents’ eyes lit up when they saw the children. We pulled it off!

The next day I asked our activities director if she knew the parents and children who came in at just the right moment and she said, “No, I thought you did.” I was able to call one of the parents of the children who participated in the program because she was a past CNA at our facility. I called her and told her that if they had not come in when they did I would have only had two children to participate in the program. I asked her what prompted them to bring the children in. She said that she and her friends talked about wanting to do something for the elderly with their children. She told her friends that she used to work at Bluegrass Care and Rehabilitation Center so they decided to visit our facility. She called and asked what time would be a good time to visit that day and then brought the children over.

I am still laughing and smiling about how all of this worked out. Was it a coincidence or a gift from God? Was I a poor planner and too hopeful for just hanging on to the idea that we would have children when we needed them? I am so thankful for the gift of these parents and children who came to our home just in time to be in our Christmas program. And I am pretty convinced that this was not a coincidence. It was a wonderful gift from God with the help of children and parents who just freely gave of themselves. The timing and coordination of their gift came from the Divine One who knew where and when the children were needed.

We often do not know the significance of our gifts and how a simple willingness to give to others can be used in surprising ways. I am convinced that if we stay open and willing to give of ourselves God will do the rest. Our simple gifts of time and talent will be transformed into a tangible presence of God-with-us in a Christmas program, or in many other unexpected times and places. Saying yes to God is filled with unexpected outcomes of love, peace and joy in times, places and ways that are sometimes hard to explain. But when you think about it there really is no need for explanations there is just a need for open hearts. God is ready and willing to use our gifts in great and small ways just when they are needed.

Donna Rougeux, Chaplain