Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Suffer little children..

But I don’t want to be a lamb” sobbed the Red-Head, adding, “I want to be like her”.
‘Her’ was her bigger sister, gloating and floating around in a cream Monsoon dress – model’s own as they say in magazines; glittery, gossamer wings adorned her back, a tinsel halo hovered above her head, silver tights sparkled on her legs but the piece de resistance, being as this is a contemporary nativity, were the silver sunglasses on her face.
How could a five year old, in a lamb costume of boring black leggings and a cream long sleeved t-shirt not be consumed by jealousy?
“It’s not fair”, she continued to wail, “I look ugly. I want to be beautiful too. I don’t want to be livestock”. I stifled a giggle and cuddling her, told her she was beautiful, very and that all of God’s creatures were important especially those that had visited baby Jesus in the manger.
“The lambs don’t make speeches though do they mum?”, added the sparkling Angel, rather unhelpfully, “I mean the lamb never uttered those immortal words, ‘Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people’. They just baaa”. The Red-Head renewed her sobs.
“Erudite but very mean”, I said sternly, “If you continue in that vein I will suggest to your teacher that you play the donkey. How do you feel about that?”
From the stricken expression on her face, I took it that she didn’t feel good about that idea at all.
The 14 year old daughter walked in.
“Oh wow! Look at you!” she said to the Angel, “We never had costumes like that when I was at their school. The Angel ones came out of old mouldy boxes and were just musty bits of net which itched like hell. She looks like a Disney Angel”. At this point the Red-Head let out a long wail of grief and flung herself into a cushion.
“Isn’t she in the nativity?” whispered the 14 year old. I nodded.
“Is she narrating then? She doesn’t have a costume”. I glared at her.
“She’s wearing it”, I mouthed silently, adding, “She wants to be an A.N.G.E.L”. The 14 year old caught on and rolled her eyes to the heavens, and then sitting down onto the sofa, she lifted her littlest sister onto her lap and smoothed her hair.
“I was a camel once”, she told her, “I was surrounded by pretty girls who were Stars and Angels but worst of all was the lead role of Mary going to one of the meanest girls in school. Mummy will tell you that I was not happy. I had to stand next to all these pretty girls in fur fabric and hooves and pretend that I didn’t care but inside my heart was breaking”. Where was this going? I really didn’t need a suicidal lamb on my hands a few hours before curtain up.
“But really it prepares you for disappointment in life. Life isn’t always an Angel, sometimes it’s a camel and occasionally it’s a lamb. Fundamentally we are all players in life’s great nativity scene.”
“You are talking out of your bottom” said her big brother who had entered the room looking for some clean pants. Using one hand to hang on to his towel, he used the other to root around the laundry which had decorated the dining table for days, before adding, “Are you suggesting that globally, we are all meandering around in various guises of shepherds and wise men, the odd donkey and an Inn keeper? It’s a cool idea. Immense. But with one essential flaw, surely the whole point is that there was only ever to be one Immaculate Conception and specifically one Saviour? Otherwise the world would be in terrible muddle.”
“My point entirely. He was the one and only, ergo without Him would you not agree that the world is in crisis?”
The Lamb and the Angel had long since gone off to play with the Lego, the Angel taking the Lamb by the hand with entreaties of, “It’s ok, don’t cry. You can have my chocolate in tomorrow’s advent window ok?”
It was only 7.50 in the morning. I had loads to be getting on with; arguing over the existence of God was not on my to-do list but given the length of my list, I just quietly prayed that He did.
As though answering my prayers, by some miracle the children not only got to school just about on time but I went to work and returned with enough time to buy supper and bang it in the oven, walk the dog, mull some wine and decant it into borrowed SAF Jars before driving the wine to the school hall.
No sooner had I lifted the lid on the SAF Jar, than a horde of parents and grandparents flocked to my side, each clutching a polystyrene cup. The wine was gone in an instant. I could have done with Jesus at that moment not just spiritually but as a caterer, no-one knew more about rationing and sharing out. He could feed five thousand for goodness sake, let alone a school hall filled with nanas and grandpas.
Speaking of caterers, just as I informed a mum that the only way she’d get even a sip of mulled wine was if she was prepared to suck on a clove studded, wine soaked orange, Hubby appeared. In an official capacity. With his hat and cane. He took his seat next to Mags and watched his daughters perform. Well the Angel did; the Red-Headed lamb stood, facing the stage and hung her head in abject misery. Hubby made a speech and then left with his car and driver. I humped the SAF jar, two children, various school uniforms, two lunch boxes and book bags home.
“I loved this afternoon”, said Hubby later, “Real Christmas feel”. I’d agree with that. I was feeling knackered.


DL said...

Abiding memory of my brother as a shepherd in the Sunday School nativity play, in standard shepherd's dressing gown and tea towel, raising his walking-stick crook and machine-gunning the congregation.

Needless to say, he hasn't (yet) taken holy orders.