Families can sometimes find Christmas to be a stressful time of year.

An unhealthy mix of financial problems and daily strife can lead to misunderstandings and ultimately a ruined holiday season.

Saturday's Christmas pageant at St. Benedict Center showed audience members how to avoid these problems.

An overwhelmed John read the newspaper in his living room and released a sigh of discontent.

“How do I protect my family in this time of need?” John, portrayed by Tonya Labenz, asked himself.

John has found himself in some financial distress and the tension increases as his wife, Mary, played by Megan Koliha, looks to him for comfort.

“I try to give my family everything I can,” Mary said. “But it’s just not enough. How did Mary carry all that stress knowing that her giving birth to the Savior meant the world was on her shoulders?”

Their three children have their own burdens to carry. Daughter Lily, played by Maria Semerad, wishes she had more stylish clothes; son Jack, portrayed by Dominic Semerad, wants to play the trumpet; and the youngest child Sophie, played by Reagan Koliha, yearns for a more close-knit family.

The family has come to expect visits from their angry neighbor George, played by Mitchell Heavican. George is the bah humbug of the family’s routine. Every chance he gets, George intrudes and does his best to make daily life a little more intolerable.

Darkness covers each member of the family in a black shroud and it seems that all hope is lost. Then an angel, played by Viviana Madej, arrives to shed light on the holiday spirit.

After young Sophie begs the angel to save her family and Christmas, the angel reminds her of an important fact.

“It is not my job or anyone else’s to save Christmas,” the angel said. “That job is left for Jesus to save, transform and love us all — not only for Christmas, but all year.”

It is then when the familiar Nativity scene appears — Mary and Joseph gather to behold baby Jesus along with shepherds and an angel. Each member of the scene reminds the family in need that there is hope after all. The answer is to look to Jesus for help and comfort.

The simple message leaves a profound mark on the family and all are able to remember what matters most during Christmas. That is togetherness and remembering Jesus comes first.

Mary Guynan has either written or directed the annual Christmas pageant each year for the past two decades.

“We try to mix it up a little each year,” Guynan said. "We’ve done pageants through the perspective of the shepherds, one year we looked through the donkey’s eyes and this year I wanted to do something different yet again.”

Guynan said she wanted to focus on changing one thing about Christmas during this year's pageant.

“I saw all this commercialism that seems to go along with Christmas,” she said. “This year I wanted to try to deflect from that.”

The goal, she said, was to remind audience members to turn to Jesus for happiness.

“Because if you miss that part of Christmas, you miss the whole point,” Guynan said.


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