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The year was 1998 and it was a cold December in Wisconsin. All across the village, kids got ready for the annual Christmas play put on by the second graders at Riverside Elementary School.

On that night I was ready to go standing in our house’s kitchen with my costume on.

In those days I was not confident enough to be an elf, so I was a Christmas tree for the play. 

About a month before, Mrs. Van Patten’s second grade class walked into music class.  We learned instead of singing Christmas carols this year for the end of the year assembly we were going to put on a play about Christmas.

It was then that I chose to be a tree. I didn’t have any lines, but I would be center stage for the majority of the evening.

The music teacher gave us instructions along with our script. The instructions explained what our costumes were supposed to look like and what materials they should be made from. 

My costume was supposed to be green, obviously I am a tree. But what is the tree supposed to be made out of is a different story.

I believe I was wearing some sort of cardboard around my torso and then the instructions said to wear green tights.

My mother saw this single piece of paper that said her son needed green tights for a Christmas performance and she went out and got them.

Let me take a minute right here and give a little more explanation. My mother always did what she thought was best for me. In retrospect a pair of green sweatpants would’ve been fine and probably easier to find to fit a fat second grader. 

However, she did buy the green tights the instructional sheet told her to. So now we’ll fast forward back to the night of the performance.

It was cold that night, not snowing but cold. The minivan pulls into the school parking lot and I run into the school to find the designated classroom we were told to meet in and then I waited.

7 p.m. rolls around, it’s showtime!

My classmates and I take the stage. I find my mark, just left of center. I am one of eight trees. My buddy Jake is a tree in the second row. About two minutes into the show he tells me, “Hey Jon, I can see your underwear.”

It was true, he and everyone else behind me could see my underwear. The good news was the front of my underwear was not visible to the audience.

Then I heard, “We can all see them, Jon.”

At this point I realized I was in deep trouble if I turned around. So, I called an audible and instead of spinning with the other trees I just vigorously waved my hands in the air unlike the other trees.

And that is why parents should always follow the rules when it comes to costumes, but also make sure your son or daughter isn’t showing his or her classmates their underwear because some of the boys and none of the girls will ever forget it.