Christmas Play Memories

March 23, 2017

Back when I was younger, I used to participate in Christmas plays for elementary school. I was part of the manger nativity scene, where Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus were the centerpiece of the program. The Christmas play is the start of the school program and for the entire show, I had to sit with another classmate playing Joseph in the manger watching as the rest of the performances for the day are performed. We only got to leave when the entire program was over.

Christmas plays
Me smiling as the innkeeper turned us down (fyi, I thought my shawl covered my smiling face)

I was very young when I started to do these Christmas plays. I think this was in Prep until the second grade. I have pictures of the different times that I did this. Basically, being part of this play meant being dressed as the Virgin Mary and walking around the stage with the classmate playing Joseph as we tried to find shelter where I could give birth to Baby Jesus. Several of my classmates were the innkeepers who had to say no to us until we could find the manger where a strategically placed baby doll is hidden and later placed in the middle in a basket with hay to symbolize the birth of Jesus. I was in charge of putting the baby doll in the hay, while my classmate playing Joseph had to remind me to do it.

I remember that there were rehearsals for these plays. The only thing I liked about it was that we got time out of our regular classes to take part in the rehearsals. The boring part? Our teacher asked us to make our rounds repeatedly until we got it right in her eyes. Funny thing is, on the day itself we end up doing it our way anyway. I mean, we were kids, things tend to go blank when we know there are so many people watching! We usually end up winging it!

My mom, being the devout Catholic, made such a big deal of me being chosen as the Virgin Mary for these Christmas plays. She seemed to think this was a big honor and often had my costumes specially made for the occasion. I think she was a little disappointed when I ended up begging off from doing it again after a few years even if my teachers still wanted me to be the one to play Mary. I can’t remember why I didn’t want to do it anymore, I just didn’t. If I were to guess it was probably because I couldn’t joke around with everyone else when the plays were going on and I couldn’t wear Christmas party clothes since I was in costume and had makeup on, which I didn’t enjoy.

Christmas plays
Joseph and Mary (isn't it obvious how much we were bored out of our minds sitting there?)

About a decade ago I reconnected with the guy who played Joseph during those Christmas plays (isn’t Facebook amazing?). He’s now married and lives in the US. I sent him a photo of us from the Christmas play when I found out that he wasn’t able to bring much photos of himself from when he was younger when he migrated. I’m sure his wife and kids got a kick out of seeing him as St. Joseph complete with the accurate costume and staff.

Sadly, I don’t have kids of my own that I could watch in Christmas plays the way my parents did with me. My niece never had any Christmas plays in her school so I couldn’t even see her in things like that. Do they even have Christmas plays in schools now? Plays that feature the manger nativity scene with actual kids doing the whole Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus bit? I’m curious! If anyone knows if this still happens, please share in the comments and let me know!

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