Were you brought up a Christian?
Were you ever in a Christmas pageant?
Did you plan and produce them in your home on Christmas Eve?
Did you force your relatives to gather and sit and watch and applaud?
I don’t know how widespread this behavior was—maybe it was just engaged in by nerdy little farm girls in strict Evangelical Protestant homes, suffering from a high need for attention. I just know that it was an absolute, nonnegotiable staple in my family.
A bright fireplace, pies baking, a couple of dogs galumphing around.
The stage is set. The audience sits in hushed anticipation. Or perhaps they are just waiting to get it over with!
The angels walk in, with their robes made of bed sheets and their belts made of tinsel, and their cardboard halos.
Not known for their singing voices, they sing.
Not known for their acting talent, they play out the Christmas story.
The oldest, the bossy one, reads from Luke:
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 she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.
And the angel said unto them: Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy . . . For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Fifty years later, I can call those words, unbidden, to mind. I can recite them without referring to the small white Bible I was given by my grandmother.
Fifty years later, those cousins all remember and laugh about their antics.
Fifty years later, many of those who gathered are gone from this earthly coil and others feel removed from the religious aspects of the holiday.
But the memories remain strong and they still matter.
Tell us—do you have Christmas pageant memories?