It’s 2020 and the holidays this year will look different for most of us. Events we look forward to all year may have been cancelled: family Christmas parties, church cookie exchanges, and *sniff, sniff* the Behold the Lamb Tour.
But Advent—the season of eagerly awaiting the birth of Christ—hasn’t been cancelled at all. And anything that can point my family’s hearts in that direction is something I want to hold on to.
If you haven’t been introduced to Randall Goodgame’s The Slugs & Bugs Show yet, it’s a delightful watch for the whole family with story, songs, puppets, and special guests, but it’s particularly engaging for the under-ten crowd. Goodgame has just released a 50-minute episode called “Make Ready for Christmas” with lots of guest appearances including Andrew Peterson, Ron Bock, Ellie Holcomb, and retired Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton to name a few.
What does it mean to have hope, peace, joy, and love not because of your circumstances but in spite of them? The Slugs & Bugs characters provide a poignant example.Carolyn Leiloglou
“Make Ready for Christmas” weaves together several storylines using the four outer candles of the Advent wreath as a framing device. The candles can have different names or meanings depending on your tradition, but the meanings emphasized here are Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. This structure won’t be immediately evident to your kids or even you. Randall simply invites us along on a journey—call it an ADVENTure—of anticipation. During that journey, characters face situations in which things don’t meet their expectations: Maggie isn’t able to give Morty the kind of Christmas she thinks he wants; Doug’s gift suggestions lead to chaos; and bad weather keeps people from showing up for the pageant. What does it mean to have hope, peace, joy, and love not because of your circumstances but in spite of them? The Slugs & Bugs characters provide a poignant example.
“Make Ready for Christmas” doesn’t spoon-feed a trite lesson like many children’s programs. Well-woven storylines emphasize multiple connected themes including giving in secret, homelessness, and Christmas traditions in other cultures. There’s even the Magnificat sung by a skunk in a gingerbread house. No, you didn’t read that wrong. It’s a beautiful moment.
I don’t want to give the impression that this show is all serious. Your family will be singing along to the “Building a Gingerbread House” song and laughing at Doug the Slug’s Crisis Gift Hotline calls. The show takes its audience through a whole range of emotions.
This year especially, when Covid-cancellations are changing the way the Christmas holiday looks for many of us, “Make Ready for Christmas” is a reminder that we can still have peace, that we can choose to give what we have, that we can be thankful and cherish those around us no matter how our circumstances look. And that’s a message that I need to hear just as much as my kids do.
Carolyn Leiloglou is the author of Library’s Most Wanted and the Noah Green Junior Zookeeper series. Her poems and stories have been published in Highlights, Clubhouse Jr., Cricket, and more. You can find her on her blog, housefullofbookworms.com, where she reviews her favorite children’s books each month.