The Second-Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The biggest problem with the small nativity play turned out to be casting. Who knew 5-year-olds could put an entire production in jeopardy?

Every parent of a 5-year-old just raised their hands.

The plan was that Brown Eyes, a 5-year-old grand, would be Mary and Blue Eyes, her 5-year-old cousin, would be an angel.

Brown Eyes was happy with the role of Mary. In hindsight, this makes sense. Who would refuse top billing? Meanwhile, Blue eyes was digging in her heels, refusing to be an angel.

She wanted to be Mary.

A lot of liberties have been taken over the course of history interpreting the manger scene in Bethlehem, but at no time has Joseph ever had two wives.

I said I would see how adamant Brown Eyes was on being Mary and asked if Blue Eyes’ stance was “Mary, or she walked.” Talk about navigating a tense situation. I suddenly understood why Hollywood agents often skim money from the talent they represent.

The response came that Blue Eyes was softening and considering the angel role—providing Brown Eyes would be an angel, too.

Blue Eyes has golden hair, a sweet smile, a soft voice and plays hardball. She may one day do well in sales.

When Brown Eyes was asked if she would yield the role of Mary and agree to be an angel with Blue Eyes, she put her hands on her hips and matter-of-factly asked, “Do I get to fly?”

If Blue Eyes is stealth, Brown Eyes is “go big or go home.” Brown Eyes had every right to ask if she might play the role airborne.

Brown Eyes’ mother explained that she would not be flying, but she would have a star. It was a good bargaining chip. Brown Eyes seemed satisfied but was no doubt imagining a star that would be remote-controlled and shoot lasers.

Brown Eyes later asked an aunt if she had met Mary (Jesus’ mother).

“No, but I hope to someday,” came the answer. “Do you know where I could meet her?”

“Israel?” Brown Eyes asked.

“No, that was a good guess, but she isn’t alive anymore.”

Brown Eyes’ next guess was heaven.

That was an interesting question; however, I thought Brown Eyes would ask if her Labradoodle could come to the manger, which would mean Blue Eyes would want to bring her big black lab that lands both font paws on your shoulders to say hello and lick your face, which would meant her siblings would insist on bringing the ducks, the chickens, the cat and the rabbit, and the whole thing would be over before it ever began.

The line was drawn on live animals, but one who plays violin is bringing her fiddle and another is bringing his guitar. Chances are, someone will load the drum set as well.

With cardboard stars wrapped in aluminum foil and angel costumes made from white satin pillowcases, it may not be a polished operation with all the bells and whistles, but it may capture the heart of Christmas: An invitation to draw close to the manger just as you are, with whatever you have.

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