Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Every Prairie primary school I attended pretty much shut down on the first of December. Christmas holidays never officially started until a couple of days before Christmas. But while a few of the teachers went through the motions of teaching history or math, most of the rest and all of us kids were otherwise pre-occupied with one thing -- The Christmas Concert.

In the towns where I lived the bible story/nativity stuff was left to the church Christmas pageant. In the pre-political correctness era, I believe this was more a copyright issue than a creative choice.

Our Christmas concerts were all about carols, dancing candy canes and Santa Claus. Although I remember Batman and Robin making an appearance on one occasion.

These things were never scripted. and if they were, it was by somebody with an advanced case of ADD or who would one day end up in charge of programming at MTV.

Most of my early grade teachers would simply let us know it was concert time and ask what we wanted to do. That was the cue for some 7 year old "Friend of Dorothy" to explode with sketch ideas that ranged anywhere from Santa's elves finding a way to turn on Rudolph's nose to the workhouse production number from "Oliver!".

Each grade was required to deliver one Christmas themed scene and a carol. Usually the scenes came first using sets we'd painted and props we'd created, and then we all scrambled into our sweater vests and bow ties to troop out one class at a time for our song.

The oldest grades had a preset routine to avoid anybody blurting out something rude or revealing Santa's real identity. So the girls would get into red or white leotards and a candy cane outfit while us boys would fetch the Styrofoam tin soldier suits stored under the gym bleachers for the rest of the year for a stirring rendition of "The Little Drummer Boy" (complete with drums) which signalled the beginning of the musical portion of the program.

Being inside those suits was like being zipped into a well used hockey bag, but it was worth it cause you got to be in the wings for the candy canes' Rockettes routine.

Back when I was 12, there was nothing hotter than watching the cutest girl in class high-kick in a leotard, strategically placed holly and all.

Once we'd suitably butchered the little Drummer Boy, it was everybody else's turn to massacre a Christmas classic and class after class would troop on stage for their carol. Because nobody talked to each other, this meant a couple or three versions of "Jingle Bells" (sometimes in a row) and and at least one kick at Elvis' "Blue Christmas".

And there was always some deluded musicologist on the staff who thought his or her Grade Four Class could handle a chunk of Handel's "Messiah" or a medieval Chorale. They were the ones leaving in tears before Santa appeared at the finale, tossing out bags of candy while our moms searched for our coats and all the dads went to warm up the car for the ride home.

In memory of those confused and chaotic Christmas concerts, I'm posting a couple of my favorite carols. Feel free to add your own in the comment section and I'll update to include them here -- creating our own "Who the hell knows what's coming next " prairie Christmas concert.

Multiple versions of "Jingle Bells" and Santa themed sketches are more than welcome.

And have yourself a very Merry Christmas!

Courtesy Will Dixon of the Buck Owens Memorial Middle School on the extreme Southwest side of Regina:


wcdixon said...

Dwight Yoakam - Run Run Rudolph


Anonymous said...

Yes my friend, I am talking about leotards. Prima ballerinas, ice skaters and all forms of entertainers have donned this particular piece of clothing in a variety of performances for a number of reasons. In fact, it was fairly recently that a famed pop singer scandalized millions by donning a rather skimpy, near see through leotard that was dotted with strategically placed Swarovski crystals.