Dear Gentle Readers,
Madame L apologizes for posting this review a day late.
Continuing her theme of Christmas stories ("A Christmas Carol" and "Wishin' and Hopin'"), Madame L wants to recommend most highly of all "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," which she calls "The Best Christmas Story Ever (After The Original, Of Course)."
Re-reading this book, as she does every year, Madame L realizes why it's so good:
First, not only do characters change (as in any good novel), but all the main characters change, from the Herdmans (the sinners) to the self-righteous church-going people (the Pharisees) involved in the Christmas pageant.
Second, all these changes are brought about by the miracle of Christmas itself, the miracle of the tiny child, born in the lowliest of conditions, who has the power to transform all of us.
So the Herdman children (great symbolic name, no?) are introduced in the opening lines of the book: "The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls) and talked dirty and hit little kids and cussed their teachers and took the name of the Lord in vain and set fire to Fred Shoemaker's old broken-down toolhouse."
The Herdmans go from lying, stealing troublemakers to transforming the traditional Christmas pageant characters of the Virgin Mary and the Angel Gabriel, who announces, "Hey! Unto you a child is born!"
And the rest of the congregation go from self-righteously judging the Herdmans to shedding quiet tears of joy as they are struck by the Spirit of Christmas.
So there's humor and hypocrisy, as we expect in any book about the realities of life confronting the idealistic spirituality of this great celebration, but there's also redemption, which uplifts us.
We see ourselves in the cigar-smoking Herdman children and the harried parents.
We see that there's hope for all of us if we can let ourselves feel the miracle of the Christ child, our Savior and Redeemer.
The book is available in several formats and many prices at Amazon.com, and Madame L sees that a movie has been made of the story, which she will review sometime after she sees it.
Best wishes to all for a happy, love-filled, and spiritual holiday season,