Nils Ling, humourist, brings The Truth About Christmas to Manitoba (Katelyn Fraser)
At last we learn The Truth About Christmas. Humourist Nils Ling, a former Manitoban, brings his brand of storytelling to the stage along with two amazingly talented musicians from PEI - fiddler Cynthia MacLeod and singer/guitarist Gordon Belsher - for several evenings of lovely Christmas songs, lots of fabulous fiddling and some pretty hilarious storytelling.
The Truth About Christmas is a live stage show based on Nils' book Truths and Half Truths. In this excerpt from the book, Nils writes a letter to his daughter reminding her of the grade one Christmas pageant where she played the role of a lamb in the manger.
Like all the other animals, you were busy adoring the heck out of baby Jesus. For the purposes of this pageant, the role of the baby Jesus was being played by a small plastic doll. Your teacher - in a triumph of creativity over simple common sense - had made a hole in the back of the doll's head and put in a 100 watt lightbulb. This gave the baby Jesus a sort of otherworldly, divine glow.
Well, she gets full marks for artistry - but her physics need some work. Hot lightbulb ... plastic.
I think it was Mary or Joseph who first noticed an odd smell coming out of the manger. Soon enough, though, it hit every kid on stage. Sitting in the audience, it was pretty clear that something was going on. But it was hard to tell what. All you kids with your noses wrinkled up. Then, one by one, you peered into the swaddling clothes...and your eyes got wide with horror.
Now, you knew the story of Christmas. But I'm not sure you were familiar with the version where Jesus' face melted. It's one of the lesser known books in the New Testament: The Gospel According to Stephen King. You poor kids watched as Our Lord's face just kinda started drooping and sagging. His nose sort of folded over onto his cheek. His eyes began to sink deeper and deeper into his festively lit head. But God love ya, you all stuck to the script - right up until the first delicate tendrils of smoke began to issue forth from the mouth of the future Messiah.
At that point, Mary started to cry, which I can understand, it being her baby and the prince of peace and all. The innkeeper ran off stage gagging. There were whimpers from the rest of the manger. The Wise Men were no help at all - this was absolutely the coolest thing they'd ever seen. One of them - Balthazar, I think - kept pushing at parts of the Christ-child's face, making it bend different ways.
Alerted by the hasty exit of the innkeeper, your teacher realized something had gone horribly awry. She rushed out onstage...and she pulled the light from Jesus. The back of his head came away in a gory, gooey clump. A gasp went up from everyone onstage.
The Wise Men stood in awe, their mouths wide open. You could almost see the wheels turning as they remembered their sisters' plastic doll and their dad's shop light at home. Mary screamed. One of the shepherds began to cry and call for his mommy. A single glass eye dropped to the floor...bounced twice...and began to slowly roll toward the livestock. You pressed back against the sides of the manger. It was bulging...on the verge of collapse. Disaster seemed at hand.
Suddenly, Balthazar began to giggle. He poked Joseph, and the two of them stood there in their dad's bathrobes, pointing at the eye and first giggling, then outright collapsing in laughter. And - in a different sort of Christmas miracle - it caught. Pretty soon everyone was roaring with laughter. Well, except Mary, who, if you ask me, was being a bit of a sook about the whole thing.
A Cabbage Patch Kid who had no doubt been waiting for just such a break was able to assume the role of Jesus. The innkeeper was convinced to come back on stage. Someone found the shepherd's mommy. Mary was consoled, and the show went on.
I guess it all ended well enough. But I'll just bet that for the rest of the holiday season, a lot of your classmates had something more gruesome than visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads when they went to bed.
Fiddler Cynthia MacLeod and singer/guitarist Gordon Belsher add a musical touch to The Truth About Christmas (Katelyn Fraser)