The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Barbara Robinson

MP3, 37:28

Personal note: I consider The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Wikipedia, Amazon, YouTube) tops in the class of stories that bring religious issues out of the traditional/ecclesiastical realm into the hard, real world in a heart-warming, laughing/crying way. Another excellent example is Easter In A Texas Roadhouse from the Moth Radio Hour, though Garrison Keillor sometimes comes close on his Prairie Home Companion.

I first encountered The Best Christmas Pageant Ever back in the 1970s. It was performed on WAMU-88.7 radio in Washington, D.C. by Edward and Anne Stone Crow, a couple involved in drama whom I knew only indirectly. I was in the habit of turning on a tape recorder when listening to WAMU, trying to catch interesting instrumental bluegrass tunes, and was fortunate enough to do that at the time of the Crows's performance. I have seen several performances of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever as plays, and heard a few vocal renditions of it, but I've never been hit quite as hard, in terms of laughing and crying, as I was by the way they traded off voices in their performance that day. While our kids were growing up, we played it every year at Christmas time, and have continued doing it even after they had long departed. It never ceases to have that same effect.

(Note: The MP3 is the result of a transfer from tape to digital, so don't expect pristine original digital quality.)