We go to a small country church—really small. So small in fact that, when our daughter-in-law inherited the responsibility of directing the children’s Christmas pageant, we found out we were short a few children. One of the children simply said he preferred to be Captain Marvel instead of a shepherd.
So that left her with one fallback plan: call the cousins. Now, in some cases, this might be the equivalent to calling the Herdmans (as in the book by Barbara Robinson, The Worst/Best Christmas Pageant Ever). NOT, you understand, because our grandchildren actually ACT like the Herdmans in the story, but mixed together with each other, compounded with the excitement and anticipation of Christmas…well, maybe there are some similarities.
Anyway, being the devoted sister-in-law that she is, Helen and Clint drove from Macon, bringing their five children to participate in the pageant. Everything went amazingly well at the one and only rehearsal an hour before the Christmas Eve service. Even the littlest angel knew her line and said it loud and clear: “Do not be afraid!”
We had the perfect stable cow.
Everything was in order for the event.
Those little people appeared to have mastered every contingency; until the audience showed up. In the performance, just before her one line was about to be delivered, one of the angels panicked, threw her hands up in exasperation saying, “I don’t know my line!!” She was in the process of storming off the set in embarrassment and irritation with herself when Aunt Helen (a.k.a. Assistant Director) crawled on her hands and knees behind the manger and calmed her down.
From that point on, the production flowed smoothly UNTIL… the stable cow got a bit too close to the manger. The littlest shepherd, seizing his opportunity to use his shepherd’s crook for the purpose for which it was intended, deftly grabbed Benjamin the Stable Cow around the neck to save Baby Jesus from being poked in the eye.
I wish I could say I felt a warm, tender, emotion as I observed the innocence of childhood. But I can’t. I must admit I got so cracked up over the look on Charlie’s face when he discovered the perfect use for that long pole with the crook on the end of it, I thought I’d have to excuse myself! Charlie was so proud of himself.
I guess all this is to say, it was a wonderful night to remember. Familiar carols sung, the sweet chorus of children’s voices heard singing over the adults; cousins coming together to share the greatest story mankind will ever hear; a two-legged cow with a pacifier…what more can a grandmother ask for?
It was a beautiful night of a beautiful season. I wish the whole world could have been there.