Three words which strike joy, terror or even fury into the hearts of [...]
NativitiesCreated by Jane in Blogs, Jane Lawson's Blog
Last Christmas I wrote about the joys or otherwise of the school nativity play, and the sorrows and joys that go along with it.
This Christmas I’m going to reminisce about other Nativities I’ve known starting from when I was very small. As with so many little girls I was desperate to be an angel or Mary. That was never to be; every year I was the narrator dressed in my school uniform. The disappointment was intense, and it didn’t help that my mother tried to console me by explaining that I had been chosen because I was a good reader. I just wanted to dress up in a long white frock and have tinsel in my hair. How I envied those golden haired, pretty ones. Mind you, my poor daughter in law said that she was always a sheep, she’s still upset about it.
Another memorable nativity was only last year. The same daughter in law phoned in a panic a day before the end of term and a day before they were going down to her people in the country. Grandson was going to a children’s service and all the children had been asked to go as a person in the Christmas story. So, up to the remnant cupboard went grandson and granny. Granny had in mind a simple shepherd but when he saw a length of purple the costume became much more complex. Much more complex. Grandpa was drafted in to make the jewelled crown and golden gifts and happily, one small Wise Man played his part in Chichester Cathedral Nativity.
But the most memorable Nativity of all was when I was a VSO in Pakistan in the 70s. Pakistan of course is a Muslim country and Christmas is not something that anyone much knows about. However, there is a Christian community in Rawalpindi and a small cathedral. And it was there that I joined in the celebration of Midnight Mass together with a living crib of goats, a buffalo and, drawn in a rustic cart, a baby lamb. It was wonderful. This community is the poorest, most despised and persecuted in the country. Afterwards we VSOs gathered together in an outhouse of the college where two of the men were teaching, and between us we cooked a chicken in a biscuit tin oven, vegetables from the bazaar, a big pot of rice and to follow burfi, also from the street bazaar. We shared a bottle of something alcoholic which one of the diplomatic staff donated and had a brilliant Christmas. The cost was about nine rupees a head.
But, to finish, I thought I’d share a story from when I was a very young teacher. I had a class of nine year olds in Peckham. They were a bright feisty lot and I allowed them to improvise some of the words. All went well until Joseph began his knocking on the doors of all the innkeepers in Bethlehem. As he reached the sixth door, with passion and exasperation in his voice, he demanded of the innkeeper:
“Please, please please, can my wife sleep with you tonight?”