Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Christmas Play

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...

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One of the things I miss most about Christmases Past is Christmas programs. Not the actual program itself, so much, but getting ready for it. Practicing parts, trying on costumes, deciding what kind of makeup will be worn are all part of the excitement that makes the experience so wonderful.

Because my kids are pretty much grown, I don’t get to work with them for programs anymore. I enjoyed that almost as much as I liked being in programs myself.

One year I was a ballerina doll, left by Santa under the tree. Smart teacher. She had me dance, but not talk. LOL! 

One of my favorite years was way back in the dark ages when I was in 6th grade (it was grade school then, not middle school). Back when we still read the Bible and prayed in school.

Our music teacher’s name was Miss Thelma. She said she’d started teaching at such a young age, she couldn’t bear to be called Miss Allen, so she had permission from the principal to be called Miss Thelma, and it stuck. We thought she was about 302 years old with her gray hair, no makeup and a glass eye. (Really a glass eye?I don’t know, but that’s what all the kids whispered.)

Anyway, that year we presented the Christmas Story. The reason for Christmas Christmas Story, not the movie on where the kid gets the BB gun. (I like the Red-Ryder-BB-gun-with-a-compass-in-the-stock-and-this-thing-which-tells-time one, too, but it’s not the one I’m talking about. We’ll talk about it another day.)

Back in the day you could depict the birth of Christ in public school without anyone even thinking about complaining.  

So we were getting ready to do the play, and I was hoping for a “big” part. Mary, maybe, since that and angels were the only parts for girls. (Unless you count the animals, and I don’t think Miss Thelma asked any of us to be sheep.)

I didn’t get to  be Mary or the angel. (I don’t remember ever being either one.) I was asked to be the narrator. Okay, I wasn’t asked. I was told I’d be the narrator, and that I’d have to memorize Luke 2.

I was so excited, and scared to death. What if I couldn’t memorize twenty whole verses? I didn’t want everyone laughing at me, so I worked hard that night and memorized–

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

I stood in the corner of the stage, putting some emotion into those twenty verses, talking and pausing as the other kids acted out the story like a silent movie.

Marsha Williams, a beautiful girl with dark hair and dark eyes, got to be Mary. She walked in slowly with Joseph, and sat holding a doll wrapped in swaddling clothes. 

Mary Fox, a pretty blond with long, smooth hair, was the head angel in charge. She stepped onto the stage, wearing sparkling wings and shining with glory to hold up one hand at the shepherds. Then all the angels came on stage and sang–

♪ ♫ While shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground, the angels of the Lord came down and glory showed around. And Glory showed around.♪♫

We had three wise men (I’m not sure they’re mentioned in this passage, but we sang to them anyway.) ♫♪ We three kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we travelers afar.♫♪

It was the normal Christmas stuff, but I loved it. I think the other kids did, too.

Two of my sisters were in a Christmas musical when they were in first and third grade. #3 and #4 sang and danced and entertained the audience with a beautiful show! I didn’t get to see it, but I heard about it for months. (Or it might have been years. LOL)

I wish I had a picture of them that I could share with you. (I’ll see if I can find one.)

My own kids were in several Christmas plays. I loved helping them memorize their parts!

This is my oldest son in a play called, “Oh, My Stars, It’s Christmas!” (I always thought the title sounded like a mom with amnesia who suddenly came to on Dec. 25th, but that really wasn’t what it was about.)

 I sent him this picture and asked if he remembered it. He said he must have blocked the memory for some reason.

Funny thing is, I don’t remember much about it, either. It might have been the year his younger brother, Matt, was born. I’d had two miscarriages and got pregnant with Matt (#2 son) in a year. Matt was born the next October.

If I’m remembering it right, my mother took care of getting Danny to the practices, making his costume and etc. No matter what else was going on, she wanted to be sure he got to participate in the program.

As an adult, Christmas programs are usually cantatas. I’m usually invited to sing with the choir, but this year I didn’t make it. I’m so disappointed in myself that I didn’t join, because the benefit is always mine.

Did you like being in Christmas programs when you were a kid? What was your favorite part?

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