Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Wayne in a Manger


Today we look forward to Craig's Christmas Concert and we shall be sitting in a church hall feeing nostalgic and I am sure suppressing a few giggles at the antics of the pre-schoolers! I wonder what theme it will take this year....
Christmas to me is all about creating magic for children or for the child that is in each of us. Either we are recreating the festive magic of our childhood or we are creating the Christmas experience that we wished we had had as a child. This time of years always puts me in a nostalgic mood and takes me back to when I was at school and Christmas would not have been Christmas without the nativity play. This was before the days of political correctness and really signified the true meaning of Christmas – sad that many children today don’t even know about the birth of Christ!

As a child I had theatrical ambitions and when the casting came around for the nativity play – I always wanted to play the female lead, Mary. My ambitions were thwarted though by my genes – I had blond curls and blue eyes - and the fact that the vicar’s daughter was in my year and that she had long straight brown hair and the brown-eyed, bovine appearance that was perfect for Mary – in fact Michelangelo could not have hoped for a more perfect match. So I never got to wear that beautiful blue outfit – I was destined to be a heavenly apparition and got to flutter onto the stage in an old sheet with a tinsel covered wire coat hanger that my father religiously fashioned into a halo each year. One frosty December, I was on my way home counting the paces between lamp posts and really not looking where I was going, when I crashed into one of them. That year I made a memorable appearance as the cherub who looked as if she had gone twelve rounds with Mohamed Ali and sported two black eyes and facial injuries to rival Quasimodo’s. At aged nine, any gasp from the audience was interpreted as appreciation and I truly felt that I had made my mark on the school production.
As my own children entered primary school I had high hopes that I may have given birth to a ‘Joseph’ but alas they were to be lowly shepherds and I became an expert at fashioning sacking into tunics and tea towels into headpieces. My youngest, Sean, made a spectacular debut in pre-primary as a shepherd and was a little miffed at having to stand to the side while someone else took the limelight. He mouthed every word of the play in an over enunciated fashion and when Joseph came onto stage leading Mary and the donkey, he happened to stop a couple of centimetres from the spot marked on the stage – Sean leaped into action to position him perfectly and then promptly informed the inn keeper that he could continue. It was no surprise the following year that he was chosen to play the donkey! That was the year that the doll used at rehearsal could not be found so a substitute was used. At the crucial moment the little girl playing Mary shouted, " STOP !! This is the wrong baby!"

In another of the boys nativities the following dialogue created much laughter ‘I am the King of the North,’ said one little boy, kneeling before the manger and laying down a brightly wrapped box. ‘I bring you gold.’ ‘I am the King of the South,’ said the second, kneeling before the manger and laying down a large coloured jar. ‘I bring you myrrh.’ ‘I am the King of the East,’ said the third and smallest child, kneeling before the manger and laying down a silver bowl (to symbolise Frankincense). ‘And Frank sent this.’
It’s quite sad that many schools no longer stage the nativity and that many parents object to recreating the Christmas story. I am all for respect for people’s beliefs and that there should always be choice, but perhaps it’s no wonder that lots of children believe that Christmas is all about shopping and spending. It seems that consumerism is the new religion and the true message of Christmas gets lost in the shopping malls.

At least I have my memories to make me smile - but I still hanker for the days when “A Wayne in a Manger,” was sung a little out of key in those dusty school halls!

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