Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


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Merry! Christmas! Glory to God in the Highest!!!

christmasWhen I was in 6th grade (in public school) we did The Christmas Play. I know that dates me, but it’s true. We enacted our version of the birth of Christ.

Cement Angels 012

Now when the teacher, Miss Thelma, told us we were going to do the play, I secretly hoped I’d get to be the angel. I didn’t bother to volunteer because Miss Thelma chose the perfect actor for each part. (Or so she said.) We didn’t try out.

When Miss Thelma announced the parts, our angel actor was, naturally, a pretty blond girl. A dark headed girl was chosen to be Mary. And that was pretty much all the female parts in the play.

mary-did-you-know

Except when the whole bunch of angels came on stage and sang. Everyone else was in the chorus.

Then she announced that I would be the narrator. *Gulp!* (Today, you might call me the voice-over.) Since I stood at the podium so I would have the use of a microphone, I could have read the passage, but Miss Thelma wanted me to memorize it. She’d even typed a paper with the scriptures I was to know.

merry-christmas-prepare

Of course, they were straight out of the King James Bible.

Luke 2 King James Version (KJV)

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 this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

I don’t remember memorizing verse 2. I guess Miss Thelma didn’t think it was necessary for the story. 🙂

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.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

If I remember right, there were only three shepherds in our story.

Next, we apparently skipped to Matthew 2 for the wise men.

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

And verse 10

 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

Of course, we only had 3 wise men, because while the wise men entered, the kids in the chorus sang, “We Three Kings.”

Can I still quote the story? Uuuuuh, no. I can say part of it, but not the entire thing. But when someone else reads it, I follow along in my mind.

Kids today are missing a lot by not getting to do the true Christmas Story in school. I guess that means their parents (grandparents and aunts and Sunday School teachers, next door neighbors or lady down the street) are responsible for getting the truth to them.

And maybe that’s a better way, after all.

come,-let-us-adore-him

I’m no angel, but from me to you: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

 

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The Spirit of Christmas

Have you caught the Spirit of Christmas yet? If you’re like me, it’s a hard thing to do. Between decorating, shopping, wrapping, working and hoping I got all the right gifts, the true spirit kind of gets away from me.

But I can find the Christmas Spirit if I’ll take the time to do one thing. Read and meditate on Luke 2:1-20.

When I was in Sixth Grade, Miss Thelma asked me to be the narrator for the Christmas Play. Yep, I’m that old. We really could read the Bible AND PRAY when I was in school.

So, Miss Thelma said, “You’ll need to memorize Luke 2:1-20.”

I memorized the entire scripture that night. If I had to do it today, I doubt if I could. It takes me two weeks to memorize one SSMT verse these days. But that night it wasn’t hard.

Here’s how I did it. That night while Mom cooked supper, I crashed on the couch and tossed my feet up on the back. The scripture was typed out, so I just read the passage again and again. While I read it, I could see it in my mind.

I’m sure having seen the Christmas Story in plays and on TV all my life helped. 🙂 I could see Joseph walking along, leading the donkey with a very pregnant Mary on its back. For me, it’s night time.

I know, it couldn’t have been night through the entire trip–90 miles or so–because it took at least a week to complete. (Longer if Mary needed potty breaks as often as I did when I was pregnant.)

This map is from Holymusic 55’s Photobucket album.

I imagined the couple gazing down on the Little Town with the night sky behind them. Their trip probably looked more like this

holymusic55

than this

 holymusic55

But I liked my gentler version of the trip.

To be able to remember the words of those verses, I imagined the way it happened and told the story.

Luke 2:1-20

1And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 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.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

If that doesn’t get you in the Christmas Spirit, nothing will. It’s the TRUE Christmas Story. Not Red Rider BB Guns or jingle bells or Santa Claus.

God, the creator of all things, became man so He could walk among us. And save us. This is how it all began.

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel


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Christmas Play

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...

Image via Wikipedia

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?