The Christmas Program

I left work on time for a change to see my youngest daughter and my son perform in the church Christmas Program. This year, my daughter actually had an important role, playing the part of the angel. She had several lines of dialogue (actually a monologue, but who cares?), sang in the chorus, and, in one song, did a solo.

Now, music does not run in my side of the family. We are all quite musically-challenged and in my increasingly infrequent visits to that place called “home” I heard my daughter practicing for her song on various occasions and understood that, while she is adorable and sweet, she has inherited my lack of musical talent. No problem, of course, she is talented in other areas, but she is eight and really wants to sing.

Showing up at the packed church (and it’s a rather large church for this rural area), I feared for her. The last thing I wanted was for her to open her mouth in front of three hundred or so people and sound like a lone Canadian goose flying overhead. I sat in the second row, behind my wife, and waited.

Her song, of which she sang the second verse, was near the end of the program. The other cast members with singing roles have varying degrees of vocal ability themselves, ranging from truly wonderful to the sound of cats being disemboweled, and I sat through all of it until the little girl with the angel-wings and the pipe-cleaner halo took center stage and opened her mouth.

I was amazed. The sound that had been coming through her nose as recently as two days ago now came out as pure and sweet as the character she was portraying. She never stumbled, never hesitated, never wavered. Every note was pure and clean and far beyond anything I had ever heard from her. I knew she had been working hard to prepare for the role, but I had no idea until she was standing up there dazzling the audience just how hard. When the program was over and the other parents and audience members came forward to offer their congratulations, I could see that some of them were nearly as shocked as I was.

My daughter was beaming, and deservedly so. There is a great sense of triumph that comes with exceeding everyone’s expectations, including your own. Especially your own. I felt the same thing when I finished my first novel and I’ve felt it with every one since. They say you never know what someone is capable of and, while it’s generally spoken in a negative sense, it also applies, as evidenced by my daughter’s hard work and success, to the best things in life as well. We never know what someone is capable of, but sometimes is a wonderful thing to find out.

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