Crier, Crier, Pants on Fire

When I was in the ninth grade, one of the civics teachers at my school was seriously into crying. If you got Mrs. Bailey talking about her sons, she would just sob. Don’t even think for a second my friends didn’t use this to delay pop quizzes. She would stand there, tears streaming down her face, “I love my boys more than your mammas love you!”

We all thought she was crazy. What sort of grownup does that? Now I understand exactly the kind of grownup she was. I’m a crier…which is really annoying because I don’t like to cry. But if I keep saying that I’m not really a crier, my pants are going to spontaneously combust.

It’s so awkward too. Since I haven’t really been a crier, I don’t really do it that well. So no one knows what to do when I start. Should they hug me? Should they pretend it’s not happening? Should they look away and give me a minute? I try to make them feel more comfortable by saying really absurd things like, “I’m just tired.” Really? Tired?

Shepherd boy

Shepherd boy

Christmas Eve we were at the church for the Christmas pageant. There’s nothing terribly special about it, until it’s your kid up there being a shepherd or an angel. Then it’s theater magic. Jackson was a shepherd. I’m not gonna lie, he was a terrific shepherd.

Charlie volunteered me to help get costumes on kids. He’s sweet like that. I was looking around the room at all the moms getting kids into robes, angel wings and fake beards, and I started to cry.

I’m turning into Mrs. Bailey 2.0. I cry over very real things like the amazing stranger who donated bone marrow five days before Christmas for my friend Elizabeth to beat lymphoma. I also cry over stupid stuff, like television commercials. It’s so ridiculous, I’ve had to start carrying Kleenex in my purse. I’m Old Lady Case who digs around in her purse for a tissue.

The thing that absolutely wrecked me this year was reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever to Jackson. The story of the Herdman kids gets me every time. It’s got great moments of humor in it. But mostly, it’s hearing the Christmas story again for the first time.

On some level, I’m trying to pull myself together. I would really like to stop embarrassing myself like this. But on another, maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world to be overcome with emotion for my friends and family and the story of a quiet Christmas so long ago.

As far as I'm concerned, Mary is always going to look a lot like Imogene Herman - sort of nervous & bewildered, but ready to clobber anyone who laid a hand on her baby. And the Wise Men are always going to be Leroy and his brothers, bearing ham.... the Angel of the Lord-Gladys, with her skinny legs and her dirty sneakers sticking out from under her robe, yelling at all of us, everywhere: "Hey! Unto you a child is born!" -The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

As far as I’m concerned, Mary is always going to look a lot like Imogene Herdman – sort of nervous & bewildered, but ready to clobber anyone who laid a hand on her baby. And the Wise Men are always going to be Leroy and his brothers, bearing ham…. the Angel of the Lord-Gladys, with her skinny legs and her dirty sneakers sticking out from under her robe, yelling at all of us, everywhere: “Hey! Unto you a child is born!”
-The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

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2 thoughts on “Crier, Crier, Pants on Fire

  1. Having fought back tears to sing at weddings and funerals with the family chorus for more decades than I care to count, and through countless children’s events and performances, I send heartfelt and empathetic sniffs your way. And that story has always been my hands-down favorite. I once read the entire book to my mother in one sitting, and still have my old yellowed, dog-eared copy. Hearing you read it is going to be one of Jackson’s favorite memories of you, I guarantee.

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