Thursday, December 10, 2009

Finnegan and the Christmas Pageant.

Finnegan Pew lives on Fulbright Lane in Cloverdale. He unhappily shares a bedroom with his two brothers. He sleeps on the bottom of a trundle bed.  His first chore every morning is to fold and put away his blankets and pillow so the bed can be pushed back into place. This gives his two older brothers an advantage. They get into the bathroom first, forcing him to jump up and down in the hallway holding himself trying not to pee his pajamas.

His brothers are the first to breakfast.  Finnegan is usually left with the burnt toast and the gross cereal. Never, no not once in his entire life, has Finnegan made it to the breakfast table early enough to claim the toy prize inside every specially marked box of breakfast cereal. Every morning Finnegan stews in his own angry juices as he shovels the shredded wheat into his mouth, one miserable spoonful at a time. Complaining to his mother doesn’t do any good. Her solution is straight forward - get up earlier. Finnegan tries every morning to wake up before his brothers but no matter how hard he tries he just can’t force himself up. By the time the bus arrives for school Finnegan is fit to be tied - ready to snap at anyone that crosses his path in the second grade at Confederacy Primary School.

Yesterday Finnegan woke up remembering he'd checked the Capt. Crunch box the night before. He knew there was enough Captain Crunch for three bowls of cereal after shaking the box a few times.  That meant there was a chance of starting the day happily. He tied his shoes and combed his hair, doing everything a second grader could do to look nice for the school's Christmas Pageant.  This year Finnegan was chosen to play the part of Santa’s Chief Elf (according to well placed sources, the decision was made on the recommendation of the school psychologist).  He and his mother practiced his lines over and over again the night before while father slept in his recliner and Grandma Petunia picked cat hairs off her dress. By bed time, Finnegan was sure he would be the best elf in Confederacy Primary School's history. 

Finnegan walked down the stairs to breakfast, reciting his lines hoping someone would comment on how well he was forming his syllables. No one did. He was annoyed. He stepped into the kitchen and noticed a bright red empty box of Captain Crunch floating on top of all the other trash in the bin. His two brothers and Grandma Petunia sat at the table, each working their way through bowls of his favorite cereal.  His heart sank, hit rock bottom and sprang upward - moving under the pressure of his exploding anger.

“Grandma, that’s my bowl of Captain Crunch!” Finnegan shouted. His hands were clenched into small fists, held straight down both sides of his small body. “You can’t eat it. You don’t have your teeth in. Where’s your oatmeal?”
“Finnegan!” Mother shot back. “Don’t you speak to your Grandmother like that. She put her teeth in early today because we’re all going to see you in the Christmas Pageant. You apologize right this instant.”

Finnegan had a melt down. He cried and screamed and cried some more. Grandma Petunia offered him the few crunches still floating in the last gulp of milk at the bottom of her bowl. It only made Finnegan cry all the louder. Father had to intervene. He picked Finnegan up, tossed him over his shoulder and carted him back upstairs.

Finnegan went to school.  The Pageant started at 10:00 A.M. Finnegan was released from class at 9:30 A.M. to get ready.
“Finnegan, here’s your costume. Slip it on,” Miss Ballard, the Pageant Director said. She handed him a nice green set of flannel overalls that fit over his normal clothes. Finnegan forgot to take his shoes off. He stepped into the flannel, and ripped it straight down the leg.  This was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Finnegan melted down into a gale force tantrum. It took the Pageant Director and  the  the school psychologist several minutes to calm him down.

The Pageant started. The auditorium was full of students and parents. Each grade sang their favorite Christmas Carol. At the end, the entire school sang “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The curtains opened during the last line of the song revealing Santa Claus, his elves and a large red bag with small presents for every student in the school. The audience applauded. Finnegan stepped forward, trying to hide the long rip in his costume held together with safety pins. The audience fell silent. Everyone listened to hear the words of Santa’s number one Elf. Finnegan took a deep breath and froze. He’d forgotten his lines. The pause quickly grew uncomfortable. Miss Ballard whispered the words to him from behind the curtain but Finnegan was too frustrated to understand. He clenched his fists.

Little Susy Warner, Santa’s number two elf, stepped up to the microphone, pushed Finnegan aside and spoke.
“Santa, look at all these good boys and girls. Do you have anything for them in you bag?” With the line said the Pageant continued. Susy glanced at Finnegan, giving him her dirtiest look as she returned to Santa's side.

Finnegan felt the eruption build - a Vesuvian eruption. He couldn’t stop. He took the microphone and stepped forward.
“There is no Santa Claus! Santa Claus is made up! Its your moms and dads. This isn’t Santa. He’s a fake. There is no Santa! Christmas is a lie!”

Finnegan was pulled away from the microphone by the Pageant director. Santa stepped forward and recited his part. speaking loudly to drown out the shouting of Finnegan Pew as he was led out of the auditorium kicking and screaming to the Head Master’s office.

Finnegan had a Horrible, Terrible, Very Bad Day. His mother checked him out of school for the rest of the day. They stopped at The Red Owl Grocery Store and bought another box of Captain Crunch. Finnegan got his bowl after all. Everything seemed right, for the first time that day.

It was tomorrow Finnegan was worried about and his return to school.

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