(The opening song, a big band tune entitled, “The Man with the Bag”, begins playing through the sound system. A line of children with their parents forms, waiting impatiently in a mall for Santa to arrive. Santa’s teenager helper elf looks anxiously at her watch: Santa is late! Finally Santa enters. Looking harried, he takes his place on the throne, and a rapid procession of children are shuttled up to briefly sit on his lap. The music comes to an end.)
(Throughout the pageant, the only words spoken by the onstage actor playing Santa will be a frequent “Ho, Ho, Ho”, spoken with a variety of expressions. Occasionally he throws in a “Merry Christmas” as well. When “Santa’s Voice” speaks, a pre-recorded voice over is heard, giving us the inner thoughts of Santa.)
Santa: Ho, Ho, Ho!
Cassie: (Climbing up on Santa’s lap, pulling his beard.) Is this real?
Santa: Merry Christmas!
Santa Voice: Yes, kid, it’s real and that hurts!
Erika: (Climbing up on Santa’s lap, poking him in his belly.) You’re too skinny to be Santa. I think you’re fake.
Santa: Ho, ho, ho.
Santa Voice: Everybody’s a critic.
Christina: (Climbing up on Santa’s lap.) I want a Natari, a x box, a I phone, a ….
Santa: Ho, Ho, Ho.
Santa Voice: I get it, kid, you want the whole world. And if you get all this stuff, you gunna be happy then?? I doubt it.
(The following cell phone pieces can be improvised.)
Terri: (Carrying many shopping bags, stands at the front of the aisle, talking anxiously, irritably on her cell phone to her husband. ) No, no, no. He’s got to have the blue one. The one with all the gadgets and gizmos. I’m telling you, Johnny won’t be happy with the cheaper one. Trust me on this.
Olivia: (Down stage right. Sarcastically) Look, Ralph, it’s okay if you don’t have time to come by my parents’ house on Christmas Eve. It really doesn’t matter — even though they’ve been nothing but nice to you, and my Dad DID get you your job. (Pause.) Angry? Do I sound angry? (Pause.) What do you mean by that?
Justin: (With shopping bags, downstage left.) Okay, so I’ll stop by the Gap, and then Urban Outfitters, (etc., etc., etc,) but you’ve got Wall Mart covered, right?
Terri: What do you mean, they rejected your credit card?? Well, use the MasterCard, then!
Justin: Come on, honey. There’s got to a parking space somewhere. Don’t give up.
Terri: You’re telling me they turned down your MasterCard as well? Well try the other Visa Card. (Pause.) No, the OTHER visa card.
Olivia: Look, I’ve already been to the Disney store, but, I’m not getting our daughter the Snow White Doll. (Listening.) I just don’t want her to idolize this thing. She’s got a waist that makes her look downright anorexic. Excuse me Ralph, why am I here?!! Do you think Cindy should idolize this Snow White doll? I mean Snow White’s dressed like a little tramp! Wait a minute: is this your way of telling me to lose weight?!!”
Santa voice: I can’t take this anymore. I gotta get out of here. Gotta get some fresh air.
Santa: (Standing, voice breaking.) Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas. (Grabbing his Santa bag, he hurries down the center aisle, as all the other characters look after him, bewildered.)
Cassie: (to Olivia.) Was that the real Santa?
Olivia: No, honey, he’s just one of Santa’s helpers, and he’s having a bad day.
Santa Voice: (Coming down center aisle.) I’m so glad I got outta there. I swear, I was gunna suffocate. Good thing I remembered to bring my bag of treasure. Can’t lose that. Gee, it’s dark out here. (Turns and faces the congregation.) Where are the street lights? And what about all the cars? Where the heck am I? Geez, I’m lost. How’d I manage to do that?
Santa: (As if asking, “Is anyone out there?”) Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas!
(Three Wisemen enter from back, pointing at the star. Their path brings them to Santa.)
Wise Man 1: Greetings, stranger.
Santa: Ho, Ho, Ho!
Santa voice: Man, am I glad to see you guys.
Wise Man 2: He speaks a strange dialect.
Santa voice: They don’t speak English. But they seem friendly enough.
Wise Man 3: And what strange clothing! From what corner of the world does one find a dye as red as a cardinal’s wings? (Others shrug.)
Santa: Ho, Ho, Ho.
Wise Man 1: What do you suppose this “Ho, Ho, Ho” means?
Wise Man 2: It seems to be some kind of cry for help. He seems lost. In need. I think we’d better bring him with us. (Wise Men gesture reassuringly, inviting Santa to accompany them.)
Wiseman 3: (Referring to his great bag.) Your bag — it looks heavy. Let us help you with it. (He reaches out to help Santa with his bag, but Santa pulls back.)
Santa Voice: That’s my treasure bag, pal. Nobody carries the treasure bag but old Santa himself. (They exit together.) What a great bunch of guys. I guess they can’t tell I’m lost. Man, is it dark out here or what? Look at all the stars. But wait a minute, that’s one bright star. I’ve never seen such a bright star.
(Shepherds appear on altar; Wise Men and Santa enter coming down aisle.)
Santa Voice: Great! More people. One of thems gotta speak English.
Santa: Ho, Ho, Ho! (Throughout the scene, Santa says Ho, Ho, Ho, whenever he feels like it.)
Wise Man 1: Greetings, local peasants, why the starry-eyed look?
Shepherd 1: We have seen the baby. We have seen Christ the Lord.
(The Wise Men, moved in the awareness they are approaching the holy one, fall on their knees in prayer.)
Santa Voice: Doesn’t anybody around here speak English? Come on somebody’s got to speak English. I just need a few directions. You see, I was working at the Rockaway Mall, and I went out to get some fresh air, and somehow I managed to get lost. So if somebody could just direct me back to like one of the major highways — say interstate 80, or 46 — I should be able to find my way from there. Anybody?
Wise Man 2: You have seen the new born King? Did you follow the star?
Shepherd 2: Star? No dem angels told us. While we was watching our sheep.
Wise Man 3: Angels? You have seen celestial beings, sent by God, to announce the savior’s coming?
Shepherd 1: Yeah. Somethen like that. They was jumping all over the sky.
Wise Man 1: So you have actually seen the baby King?
Shepherd 3: (Pointing from whence they came.) Yeah, he is just down the road here.
Wise Man 1: How will we know where to find him? Is he in a great palace?
Shepherd 1: No. This King is lives among us poor folk. You’ll find him in the stable. Lying in a manger. Just like dem angels told us.
Wise Man 3: A king born in a stable. Most remarkable!
Shepherd 2: Why does this guy keep saying, “Ho, ho, ho”? What does it mean?
Wise Man 1: We think it means, “Help me.” (Shepherds nod, understanding.)
Wise Man 2: (Pause.) You are leaving the baby King?
Shepherd 2: We must return to our sheep. They need us. You know, they’re always crying, “Ho, ho, ho!” It’s our job to help them.
Wise Man 3: Noble work.
(Everybody says bye, as both parties head off in different directions, exiting down side aisles to rear of the sanctuary.)
Anthem (As the anthem begins, Mary, Joseph and with the baby Jesus enter and sit at the center of the altar space. Angels, led by the Star Angel, process down the center aisle, and take their places standing behind Mary, Joseph and the baby.)
(When the anthem is over, Wise Men and Santa enter coming down center aisle. The Choir will simultaneously make their way to the piano.)
Santa Voice: I never knew there was so much undeveloped space near the Rockaway mall.
Wise Man 1: My friends, after all our months of travel, I believe we have finally reached our destination!
Wise Man 2: Here is the stable.
Wise Man 3: And there is the baby and his mother. (The three wisemen fall down before the baby and worship him. Santa stays back, confused by what is happening.)
Santa: Ho, Ho, Ho.
Anthem (As part of Santa’s musings, he listens to the choir. There song is part of what leads Santa to realize he has come to the manger in Bethlehem.)
Santa voice: This… this is the baby Jesus. I don’t know how this can be, but my heart tells me that it is true, this is Mary and the baby Jesus. And these are the Wise Men. (Falling to his knees.)
Santa: Ho, ho, ho.
Santa voice: My bag, my bag! That’s why I brought this bag so far, so I would have something to give the baby Jesus! (Santa opens up the bag, and starts searching through.) There’s nothing here! I’ve been carrying this bag around forever, and there’s absolutely nothing here. I have no treasure — nothing to give the baby Jesus.
(Santa collapses his face into his hands. Pause. A voice, also pre-recorded is heard.)
Baby Jesus voice: Santa man. (Santa looks up, confused.) Santa man. I love you. Santa man, I don’t want your bag. I want you. I want your heart. I love you, Santa man.
(Santa sits up.)
Santa voice: May I hold you?
Baby Jesus voice: I’d love that! (Santa stands, takes the baby Jesus into his arms, and turns to face the congregation.)
Santa: (With genuine joy.) Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas!