Posted by: Kate | December 9, 2008

Putting the “ARGH” in Christmas

Yesterday, Jacob and I attended the Christmas concert at Emily’s school.

The kids were dressed nicely, and they tried hard.  They sang their little hearts out, and aimed big smiles and waves at family in the audience, and seemed proud of themselves.  They did their best.

Unfortunately, their best was not good enough to make the experience remotely enjoyable or pleasant.

It’s the same rant, differeny year: the hypocrisy of the music selection just gets my knickers in a twist.  If we really need to avoid religious music in the public school system, then OK.  Let’s sing completely non-Christmas songs with no reference whatsoever to the holiday.  If we need to represent all of the families within the district, then let’s sing a Christmas carol, a dradl song and something for Ramadan just in case.  But this feels like some incredibly lame attempt to find a compromise between “too religious” and “but it’s Christmas!” and in the process of trying to make everyone happy, no one is happy.

I’m not a hidebound traditionalist in very many areas of my life, but to me, if you’re calling it a Christmas Concert (and they were; no “holiday concerts” or “winter concerts” here), then I think you should be singing some traditional Christmas carols.  Because the sound system in a school cafeteria is, by definition, distorting and horrible, and the kids are going to be revved up and distracted by the audience.  They’re going to have problems with things like tonality and phrasing and musicality.  But if they lose their place in the middle of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” then I can at least fill in the blanks and understand what it’s supposed to sound like.  When they collectively forget the words in “Gimme, Gimme, Santa” (yes, seriously, that was the second song they performed), I don’t know what it was supposed to sound like and I’m fairly certain I don’t want to know.

And while I’m bitching, why on earth do we have to make it into a little play, with eight of the kids having stilted dialog, mumbled into a single, stationary microphone and therefore having long, confusing delays in between indistinct childish murmurs?  Just let them sing songs, forget the dialog.  It adds nothing to the performance, and arguably detracts from it.

So.  The kids did a fine job, given the material they were forced to present, but the overall experience was disappointing.  I think the teacher made a very poor selection of music, and a part of me wants to sit her down and have a calm, intellectual discssion with her, but a bigger part of me is just glad it’s over and is ready to move next summer and see what they do in the new school district.

And trust me, as crabby as I sound about it now, this is after a while of venting and calming myself down.  I was nearly inarticulate, immediately after the show.


  1. We get to go to two elementary school concerts this year (and a preschool concert for Sarah) – lucky us! The boys’ concert at their own school next Monday, but Evan’s band is playing at the Elementary school that has the French Immersion Program. They expect that one to be so crowded that each band child has been given two tickets. Now, not only do I have to go sit through it, but I have to pay for a sitter for the three kids I have to leave at home! Life just isn’t fair sometimes!

  2. Gimme Gimme Santa? Holy crap. That would just about be enough to make me yank my kid out of public school.
    Ours is next week, and it’s of the “one song for every religious persuasion” variety. This is our first.

  3. I’m sorry — Christmas is a Christian, religious holiday. Music about the Christmas story, and angels, and – wow, even JESUS – is what you’re supposed to hear.

    Gimme, Gimme Santa? Are you kidding me?

    I’m convinced that people have lost their freakin’ minds.

  4. I loathe pageants of all kinds. I’m glad our school doesn’t have any other than the annual torture of a talent show filled with very little talent.

  5. After reading this, I am doubly glad that I skipped BB’s holiday concert this year. I can’t remember why I didn’t go – I think I was just in a bad mood. But having seen one of his concerts before, I feel certain it would have been just as painful as Emily’s.

  6. Derek’s is next Saturday…nothing like 20 preschoolers tryng their hand. I find it remarkably funny though out here in the “west” the preschool makes NO ATTEMP to hide that we all should be celebrating Christmas, just for fun I thought about mentioning that we are 1/2 Jewish and see what smoke, if any that could cause. The program will be in a Lutheren church “across the way” from the preschool, just to make sure we know it is a Christmas Program. BTW I totally believe in christmas and celebrate it HOWEVER I think it is wrong to force it down another’s throat, and especially when it is torturess.

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