Why I Read A Children’s Book Every Christmas
Every year I read “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” by Barbara Robinson. I first read it in school in third grade, and then I found it again years later. I reread it, and I realized how great it was. After reading this book as an adult, I felt like I understood the meaning of Christmas like I never had before.
(If you’ve never read it, I’m sorry, but I’m going to spoil the ending for you).
This book is all about the Herdmans, who are pretty much the worst kids ever. They smoke, cuss, drink, steal, pretty much anything you can think of. They take care of themselves since their father isn’t around and their mother doesn’t have time for them. After hearing that the church gives out snacks, they decide to go for the first time. When they find out about the Christmas pageant, they decide to keep coming back to participate. They end up basically taking over the play and taking all the major roles.
They had never heard the story of Jesus before, but they are eager to learn as much as possible. Not only do they listen to the story, but they ask questions. Real questions. This even causes the narrator to question her understanding of the story of Jesus.
When the pageant starts, nothing seems off. But eventually, the Herdmans make some changes. They were moved by what they learned about Jesus and they are excited about it. The three playing the Wise Men bring a ham to Jesus that was given to them by the church. They didn’t understand the gifts the real Wise Men brought Jesus, so they brought what made sense to them. One of them is so overwhelmed by it all that she cries during the pageant. She is amazed at this story and at the fact that she gets to be a part of it.
Everyone leaves the church agreeing that it was the best pageant ever, though they couldn’t figure out why. The only one who understands is the narrator. The Herdmans didn’t see the Christmas story the same way most of us do. For those of us who grew up in church, we’ve heard about the birth of Jesus a million times. We know it’s special and that it’s one of the greatest events in history, but we don’t really think about it. If we’re being honest, it’s just another Christmas story. The Herdmans, who were known as such terrible kids, understood how amazing the story is, and they portrayed it in a genuine way for them.
The Herdmans were more excited than anyone else at the church, and they had just started going. A group of children who had just heard about Jesus for the first time couldn’t wait to show everyone what it was really all about. They didn’t care what everyone thought of their portrayal because it was real to them. And at the end of the story, they didn’t even want their ham back. It was their gift to Jesus, and they refused to take that back. They gave Jesus all they had to give for a play, but it was real for them.
I read this book every year so that I don’t forget what Christmas is really about. When I have kids, I’ll read it to them too. This isn’t a book just for children. It’s for everyone.