Reason for the Season

Maria Niechwiadowicz


It all began with a vision – a vision of Christmas spirit, of storytelling, and of sharing the true message of Christmas.

As I mentioned in my post last week, most of this month (and last) has been devoted to preparing for an epic Christmas Pageant; a performance-based Christmas party for the English department staff and students.

We set the bar high, planning a night filled with games, dance, song, and a retelling of the Nativity Story. I functioned as the script writer, drama director, and stage manager of the entire event. Uff-da! This came with challenges, adaptions, frustrations, and immense joy. I would like to share with you the journey we took that resulted in a successful event last week!

Rehearsals and set-building began in early November, giving us a month to pull the show together. As we solidified a date with the department they kept asking, why are you planning this so early? :)

The entire night was set around the vision of a grandfather and child on Christmas eve night. It is a cozy evening, snow gently falls outsides, as “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” plays lightly overhead. A feeling of Christmas memory and nostalgia hangs in the air. The child is curious about her grandfather and is inquiring about his childhood holiday memories.


The grandfather expresses that every Christmas eve his family would sit in front of the TV with his family watching the “Jingle Jolly Game Show,” a Christmas trivia show! Time melts and we enter the show…

This was our ‘interactive’ portion of the night! Arnold played the game show host, while I stepped in for Vanna White. We began with version of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

A representative from each class of each grade was selected to compete on the trivia show. The two teams tried to answer Christmas-themed questions in Jeopardy style!


In the end, team Red won by one question! It was a great crowd pleaser!

Then the grandfather remembers that, once he got older, he and his wife would go swing dancing during the holiday season.

Two of the teachers worked with 3 couples for almost two months on swing dance choreography, the result was fabulous! Those dancers literally were “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree.”


Soon the child hears carolers singing outside…

Here are my singer students and I singing “Christmastime is Here.” Working with these two was the highlight of all my rehearsals.


Finally the grandfather mentions that they hadn’t told the most important story of the season, the Nativity story! Together, the grandfather and child tell the story and we see the drama unfold.

Working with these drama students was thrilling! They were hard workers and improved a lot. The best part was being able to inspire them to tell the story and exhibit the feelings of these characters. I hope that this experience will allow them to never forget the most important Christmas story.

Finally, I ended the drama by singing “All is Well.”


And then we let the audience in a sing-a-long! Can’t have a Christmas party without caroling, right?


In the end, it was an incredibly successful event. It was well attended by both students, staff, and their families and put a joyous spirit in the air. Despite the craziness of rehearsals and preparation, it was a good reminder for me to experience and celebrate the birth of Jesus. This hope and love is what carries us through each day. In the words of the child in the show, “I want to love like God loves.”

This event couldn’t be possible without our amazing Dean (pictured on the left). Her support and trust of our planning and vision made this all possible in the first place! Not many foreign teachers in China can say that they planned a Western, Christ-centered performance that was funded by the department. Similarly, this process without my assistant stage manager, Carina, (pictured on right) would have been even more difficult! She was the go-to translator and communicator to make everything happen!

And, thanks to all of you prayer warriors out there who have been spiritually supporting this process! Seriously, you have no idea how much it means to have your thoughts with us.

I pray that this Christmas you are able to reflect on the “reason for the season” and share the Nativity story with a friend or someone you love.

Merry Christmas!