Thursday, December 11, 2014

In Preparation

IT'S CHRISTMAS TIME! Here's a new song that dear Marisa posted that I had never heard before. It's really lovely! Winter Snow by Audrey Assad ft. Chris Tomlin.

This blog has sort of fallen off the face of the planet. Whoops. Now that NaNoWriMo is over I kind of have been feeling the itch to write some more, but not necessarily editing the tangles mass of 50,000 words that vaguely resembles a story. So this blog is the lucky winner! Actually, I have been meaning to get it back up and running. I had a draft of a post about Fiction and Wonder started, but it's going to need a little more thinking through, so instead how about just some updates and general musings?

It's probably the most narcissistic thing ever to assume you all want to read those, but I'll comfort myself with the old Gwendolyn-ism--at least later I will have something "sensational to read on the train."

As most of those who are close to me know, I love Christmas. Well actually, the whole Advent/Christmas bundle. Last year in Korea I did some new fun things since I wasn't here to celebrate with my family, but this year I'm home and there is such a coziness in old traditions. Of course, it looks a little different this year too, because most of us Long types aren't at the homestead any more, but being in Korea prepped me for looking for the bits of tradition wrapped up in the new.

This year I am once again working through the O Antiphons Advent booklet written by John Fickett, and it is still just as good. It has been challenging me in big ways, and building up my anticipation. I am remembering part of a Children's time message my Mom gave the other day in church. She talked about how when someone special is coming, part of the way we know they're special is because we make special preparations. We clean the house for Grandma, we get fresh sheets on the bed, etc. Going through the devotional booklet is helping me to "get ready." And in the "getting ready," the gift coming seems even more glorious and wonderful.

It strikes me that maybe that's the purpose of liturgy and tradition; a pattern of preparation that helps us realize the beauty of what we are preparing for. If I think about it, usually (at least in American culture) we tend to view things that take lots of preparation as things that have a lot of worth to us, or symbolize something special. A wedding for instance, or an exam. If we don't believe it's important, then we don't prepare for it. That challenges me during this Advent season! Jesus is important. I need to prepare myself!

Talking about preparation, many months of it will come to fruition this weekend with the performances of Three Wise Men and a Baby! It has been just the cats pajamas to work with the kids on this Christmas play. I always go into a Wednesday night rehearsal feeling burdened, but by the end it has melted away and I feel really energized by all the fun we're having working on it together. The last rehearsal we had was a little rough, but hopefully it will all turn out well come Saturday. With it all coming to and end soon, I thought I should perhaps reflect on some things I've learned, in no particular order of importance.

1. You should always have extra pencils and folders. Because the kids will remember if they didn't get one.

2. It's good to assume that there will just be a mob of Shepherds, Angels and Barn animals. Extra kid shows up after audition week? 3-4 grade? Shepherd. K-2? Angel or Barn animal. Done. 

3. Even if you offer a whopping 45 gold coins for memorizing lines, the kids will still not know them until the week of the performance. Maybe if they were 45 chocolate gold coins...

4. Nearly everyone will be too short for their costumes.

5. The Shepherds will need their headdress things retied at least 3 times during rehearsal. They might even start wearing it as a dandy neck scarf.

6. It's a good idea to not "wing it" for a rehearsal, especially when it comes to blocking. "Actually no, go out that exit and come in wait.."

7. If you have a group of K-1st grade, stop trying to do activities that involve reading. They couldn't read last week, they probably won't be able to this week either. It took me way too long to get that into my head.

8. You may need to remind a small Angel that we don't hit people, and a Cat that this is a safe place so we don't threaten to break a shepherd's staff for the fun of it. Could it be the Herdmans are a part of our play too?

9. Many actors with interpret the instruction of "take off your costume and hang it carefully in the costume room" as "strip it off and just leave it wadded on the floor."

10. Apparently, the most opportune time to ask to get a drink or go to the bathroom is 2 minutes after we start rehearsing the song/scene.

11. We Three Kings is a hard one for the little guys...overheard during rehearsal: "Westward leading, still perceiving..."

12. Laughing at all of this instead of getting stressed about it is the way I should respond.

So, it's been fun! And I guess this is kind of advertising, but you should all come see the play! Dec 13 at 6 pm and then on this Sunday morning in Church at FABIC. Should be great, and even if it isn't, it will probably still make you laugh because the kids are too cute.

Thanks for reading!