Away in a Manger

Clare’s Christmas play was at church last Sunday night, and the scene was perfect. There were trees, a manger, stars, warm lights and lots of shuffling parents trying to get into a premium position to film their little ones. I positioned myself on the front row and elbowed my way in for a good view so I could video the whole thing. I was not giving up my spot just because she didn’t have a speaking part…no, no, no. It was my Clare and this was her first! I knew her group would begin the show since they’re the youngest so I listened and waited for their arrival. The audience chatter grew silent and I heard little ringing bells coming down the hallway with clip-clopping shoes and tiny whispering voices. I saw the first little head peek through the door, and instantly clicked the camera on record. First Noah, then Anna, then Graham, then…there she was. She looked perfect and she had the biggest smile on her perfect little face! I trained the camera on her and just watched for her to be cute. She did not disappoint me. Once she saw us watching her, she started waving and playing coy with the camera. I got it all and quietly laughed so that I didn’t interrupt the filming. I was careful to catch her every movement while singing Jingle Bells, all of the ringing, dancing, waving and smiling. They were all so happy, so excited to be up there in front of us. So proud of what they were doing. I filmed her with short visions of the entire group, but mostly I trained the camera on her because I never wanted to forget how precious she was at that very moment. Next they sang Away in a Manger, which might have been cuter than Jingle Bells. They all put their arms in position to hold imaginary babies and began swaying them as they sang…away in a manger, no crib for a bed…next they gently put the palms of their hands together and laid them on their shoulders and swayed pretending to sleep…the little lord Jesus lay down his sweet head…arms and hands up and fingers flickering…the stars in the sky look down where he lay…arms gently swing down and one hand points to the ground…the little lord Jesus asleep in the hay.
All the while, I sit as still as I can and watch through the camera lens anticipating how much fun it will be to show everyone.
Finally, they were handed little battery operated candles (yeah, this was cute, the program could have ended at this point because they were EXCITED). Jessica explained that this was the class favorite song and even though it wasn’t a “Christmas”, they were wanting to sing it because they knew ALL the words. The lyrics to This Little Light of Mine started quietly until one little boy decided it was time to turn up the volume and then they all sang at the top of their lungs and swung their lights all around them. All of them still so proud, no fear, no nervousness, just beaming pride. They raced off of the stages to clapping and open mommy and daddy arms. It was a success. I clicked the camera off and sighed. I had it forever.
When we finally got home that night, Mason went upstairs to load it onto YouTube and send it out to family and friends. A few minutes later he came back down and said, “Something happened, you didn’t film it. There are three seconds and then nothing.” I told him if he was joking it wasn’t funny. His face told me that he wasn’t joking. I asked him to check again. He assured me he had. I stood there looking at the floor trying to figure out what I had done and how to fix it. It’s silly, but every parent out there understands my loss at that moment. Oh sure, I’ll be able to get a copy of someone else’s video, but it won’t be of Clare. It won’t be her face when she’s singing. How she lifted her chin to sing with more happiness and louder. It won’t be her silly smiles trying to make us laugh…. her rocking baby, her little light, her laughter. It won’t be her running off the stage to me. She’ll be in it, but she won’t be the star of someone else’s video. That was what I was supposed to be doing. I know why I was disappointed though. It wasn’t really that I didn’t get the program on film. It’s more that I am beginning to realize that my notion that I will never forget any of these details is misguided. My memory is fickle and there wasn’t any detail of Sunday night that I was willing to trade in order to remember all of her that night. I wanted to keep everything just as it was. I know that I try to pull so many memories back now, and I can’t. One day this will be one of them, too. So I was quiet and trying to make every memory stick…forcing each into an already full box and trying to sit on the lid to close it so that nothing is lost.
I lost a few Mommy points on this one. I’ve got a second chance on Wednesday for her school Christmas program and I bet you I don’t mess up this one for any reason. I’ll walk in there with reinforcements if I have to! If I’ve done my job correctly this time, you’ll have that as my next blog.