If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to make me cry quicker than a Children in Need TV Special, it’s a Nativity Play. And when it stars one of my own genetic offspring, I can’t even make it to Little Donkey before my glasses need their own windscreen wipers. So as it is The Season, I thought I’d share my recent experience with a bit of added Christmas magic…
The walls in The Nursery are covered with sparkly snowflakes, cotton wool snowmen and hopeful letters to Father Christmas. Mrs Major, the pre-school manager is gathering together the cast but The Angels are missing. The Wise Men have their hats on the wrong way round. The Shepherds are barefoot and have lost their toy sheep somewhere between the water tray and the play-dough shelf, and Mary? Well, she’s cut all Jesus‘s hair off with the craft scissors so Joseph is looking for a new Saviour in the Home Corner.
Meanwhile, The Parents take their place in the audience, wishing they’d taken off their coats before they sat down on tiny plastic chairs that seem wholly inadequate for their middle-aged spread. The Grandparents, older and wiser, choose the aisle seats, having left their coats in the cloakroom. The Big Sisters fidget nervously and the Baby Brothers provide the giggling warm up act.. Mrs Minor, the music teacher, settles in front of the piano with a big old cushion and a handful of music sheets. Mrs Major then leads the blushing cast into the room and standing facing them, she gives everyone an encouraging smile. Although ever hopeful of a BAFTA winning performance from her class, this year she’d settle for a performance free from the F-word and a fire alarm.
And so it starts…Let’s all sing “Away in a Manger“. Although a sound that warms even the most Ba Humbug of us, I didn’t know it had quite so many verses. Clearly the children didn’t either. Mary and Joseph were having a domestic about The Chosen One, The Donkey s accusing The Cow of costume sabotage for pulling off his tail. The Cow rather sportingly is trying to tickle one of The Wise Men, who said he really needed a wee. The Shepherds were still looking for their sheep and The Angels had finally appeared halos intact, but is that a pair of craft scissors I see?
Mrs Minor started to play and the children stood – but oh dear, “Another puddle!” shouts one. “More straw needed!” shouts another. As the Shepherds try to deal with the leak, the children start to sing Away in a Manger, again. The conductor brings them back to point with a few claps and off we go with a Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer medley interrupted only by some unprompted breakdancing by one of The Wise Men and The Innkeeper having a puff on his inhaler sat amidst the hay bales.
By this stage in proceedings, I am seriously testing the resilience of my pelvic floor muscles because the show has taken a turn. The Donkey is now chasing The Cow trying to pull off his udders in revenge for Tailgate. The Innkeeper is refusing admission to The Shepherds as quite clearly on the Air B & B website it states “NO SHEEP”. The Wise Men have borrowed one of the Baby Brothers and have wrapped him in swaddling and placed in the manger. And The Angels. Well, they’re looking very pleased with themselves and it’s not just because they have been picking their noses and flicking at The Shepherds…
As the final chorus comes to an end, a relieved Mrs Major turns to the audience as does Mrs Minor to graciously accept the enthusiastic applause. And then I see why my little Gabriel was so pleased with himself. Mrs Minor has a rather shorter skirt than she started the show with, and no Secret Santa prizes for guessing who was left holding the scissors.