It’s a Twin Peaks Christmas, Charlie Brown!

I was never much of a family person during my first five decades; anyone familiar with the family of my childhood will understand why I spent a half-century running in horror from the prospect of having to deal with another one of the fucking things. As a result, I’m a bit of a virgin when it comes to these Christmas Concert doohickeys that always seem to pop up in elementary schools this time of year. I didn’t know quite what to expect when I arrived at the one hosted by Micropone’s school the other night.

I do know, though, that I wasn’t expecting anything directed by David Lynch.

Under a Blood-Red Sky, Grades 1 through 6 perform a spirited rendition of "Another Brick in the Wall." I wish.

I thought maybe we’d be in for the usual saccharine Baby-Jesus pap that inundates the rest of North America from Halloween straight through to Boxing Day. (I keep waiting for this “War on Christmas” thing to escape from Fox News and make it up here, perhaps knocking Gretchen Carlson into a coma during the break-out; now that would bring some measure of Joy to the World.) What I witnessed, though, was something more out of Blue Velvet. It started with a small parade of kids who were obviously too old to believe in Santa Claus, reciting that infamous New York Sun editorial “Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus”[1]. There followed some kind of jazz-blues Christmas number which, as far as I could make out, exhorted us all to “Follow that car and pet the ham”, which I guess is what the kids are calling it these days (although doing so while driving is not the kind of thing I’d expect to see celebrated at an elementary school concert). Next up was a rousing dirge-like Hannukah song in a minor key, whose verses I couldn’t quite make out but whose chorus consisted solely of the word Die! Die! Die! chanted repeatedly for thirty-second intervals.

Micropone dutifully channels the Little Drummer Boy, although she's far too smart to buy into any of that crap.

Safely hidden in the audience, Mesopone raises her face to heaven and gives silent thanks that she graduated from this place two years ago.

There was some sort of Bollywood Christmas medley, which struck me as something of a contradiction in terms. Kwanzaa (not the Australian airline) got a mention. All in all, it reminded me a little of those reprogrammed POWs and political prisoners that used to be all the rage — the ones who’d show up on camera with bruised faces and broken arms to dutifully decry the violence of US intervention, while simultaneously lauding the charity and beneficence of their current hosts. Except without the missing fingers, of course; when you’re ten years old, the threat of being sent to the principle’s office is generally enough to keep you in line even if you don’t believe that ridiculous Cabbage-Patch-Deity stuff they tell you to sing about.

After the festivities had ended, the BUG and I adjourned to a pub down the street to try and get a bit of writing done. We weren’t expecting to see the school’s staff trickling in after us in ones and twos. We weren’t expecting to watch them pile up in the darkest, most distant corner of the Rose & Crown as the night wore on. But there they were, hanging their heads morosely over their drinks and the evening’s accomplishments. And that unguarded yuletide tableaux gave me the most cause for hope and cheer I’d had all week.

Merry Christmas.

Yahweh's Dagger: Grades 4-6 re-enact Joshua's slaughter of the Amorites, in song.


[1] Whose most rigorously-logical argument — “Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there” — has been a staple of religious belief ever since The Enlightenment.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Monday December 10 2012at 11:12 am , filed under misc . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

16 Responses to “It’s a Twin Peaks Christmas, Charlie Brown!”

  1. You know, for a minute there, I thought every student but Micropone was subject to some Ring-like photographic curse, further evidence of the ancient forces summoned during the pageant.

    Then I realized you were just protecting their identities. I suck.

  2. I have a hard time containing my laughter at grade school band performances because they always remind me of this:

  3. Is the Dad role broadening your perspective?

  4. The “Die! Die! Die!” song sounds as if it may have been “Dayenu!”, which means [It would have been] Enough for us. But that’s a Passover song, not a Chanukah one.
    Dayenu performed on youtube:

  5. I would mock you except for the fact that I spent a hour or so yesterday attending my goddaughter’s church Christmas pageant where we were exhorted to “journey to Bethlehem,” despite the Hebron and West Bank in general being one of the less salubrious places for middle-class white Americans to visit, while the children’s choir infused carols of ecumenical joy with the mono-tonal enthusiasm made possible through a couple of centuries of WASPy Lutheranism.

    Meanwhile, I was sitting in the pews hoping that no one would notice the smoke rising from inside my collar as the holy ground had it’s inevitable effect on me.

    Christmas: why can’t it just be a couple of quiet days off with presents?

  6. 1) their uniforms have a certain Wednesday Addamsness about them

    2) re “We weren’t expecting to see the school’s staff trickling in after us in ones and twos. We weren’t expecting to watch them pile up in the darkest, most distant corner of the Rose & Crown as the night wore on. But there they were, hanging their heads morosely over their drinks and the evening’s accomplishments. ”

    The second most sarcastic person I know is a high school English teacher. Those two facts about him are most definitely connected. At one point he was at a teacher training course where the trainer was saying one shouldn’t be sarcastic in class . . . and his recounting of this was rather priceless. And yet whenever we run into his former students together, or they comment to him on Facebook, they’re adoring. Perhaps those two things might be connected as well. *wry*

  7. My kids’ Christmas concerts were a lot less politically correct and a lot more irreverent ( irrelevant? ). The music teachers sang the Chipmunks hulahoop song while whiffing helium. Nothing says Christmas like sucking noble gases into your lungs.

  8. Christmas concerts are SUPPOSED to be surreal. My no. 2 sister is a music and band teacher…she says every kindergarten singing event includes a pretty consistent percentage of a) kids who wave at their parents throughout b) deer-in-the-headlight kids who spend the entire performance staring dumbly at either the audience or the overhead lights. Every year Whitehorse elementary school choirs take turns singing in the lobby of the Territorial Legislature in the weeks before the Holidays…extra special this year as our Conservative-allied gov is also getting protested by the
    high school students! This year my child sang Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Jingle Bells en francais and Fix You by Coldplay…her choir/band teacher is….young and a bit bored, apparently…

  9. You might enjoy Excelsis: A Dark Noel. Partly gothy and a tradition at game designer/fantasy author Monte Cook’s home apparently, it comes recommended from there.

  10. Ah yes. X-mass. ‘Deck the halls with Poison Ivy, etc’
    I normally take a few days off without telling the family and pretend to go to work every morning. Then I go to the oft forgotten Nature Reserve near my home and spend the day relaxing in the bush while giving confused German tourists misinformation. (Anyone ever hear the theory that Giraffe Neck length depends on the area’s average tree height?)
    The park even has a gorgeous view of the local Heineken Brewery. Bliss.

    This year is the 4’th time I had to sit through a very adorable Christmas Pageant consisting of toddlers in various stages of serious concentration, confusion and abject terror. This one was uneventful – I only mistook another girl for my seed. 15 minutes of video of her looking very embarrassed while wearing a mouse costume (See how easy it is to make that mistake)

  11. As a young musician I used to wish for updated songs to perform. Hashing through Wagner will do that to you. As an old musician, I am infrequently embarassed when I am reminded of my younger days, playing the “Star Wars Theme” for a basketball game and such. While watching my youngest son graduate from middle school last June, I had one of those involuntary-bodyshudder moments when I caught a whisper of a blues number being played by the un-micced string ensemble in the gymnasium. I think I was the only one who heard it. (shudder)

  12. I am still waiting for someone to put on a pageant that faithfully portrays my annual posting of a somewhat modified and on-topic version of Luke 2:8-12 onto UseNet news:alt.alien.visitors.

    I think it might take Lucas or Spielberg to do a film version. 😉

    If you read it as if you were a SF fan and as if it were known to have actually happened to people with no technical knowledge at all, it makes perfect sense to imagine the holographic equivalent of robotic phone spam making the announcement that the territory has now been annexed to new management, you can forget about that old YHWH interstellar trade corporation who bombed the planet with ice comets creating tsunamis and who struck with a plague of semantic aphasia, nope, you are under new management now and they are kindly disposed to you. We are growing nanotech into a local newborn so we can communicate better once that ambassador unit matures.

    Sort of like Cristobal Colon propping up the Spanish flag in El Salvador and announcing that the Great White Mother and Father will love everyone deeply if only they will pay their taxes on time.


  13. Ross,

    Incorrect. It is simply a tribute to Metallica’s awesome 1984 song Creeping Death:

  14. pG,

    Haha…the temptation to tell whoppers to bush-confused tourists is universal, I think. Many of ours are also German…I try to resist temptation…their ideas about bears, back-country food logistics and the deep cold can/will get them killed…and bears could die also…still tempting…

  15. Jeremy:
    Incorrect.It is simply a tribute to Metallica’s awesome 1984 song Creeping Death

    Two metalheads (sometimes, in my case), one thought?

    But then, it seems this one was inspired by biblical Exodus, via “The Ten Commandments”:

  16. “Die! Die! Die!”

    Reminds me of this Dutch baby food advertisement: