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The Christmas Play

     The angels are crying. This is probably because Joseph has been pulling their hair. Again. I put him in time out. Again. I would threaten to recast him, but the show is tomorrow, and you can’t ask seven year olds to memorize new lines in a single afternoon.

     Besides, no one else wanted to be Joseph. No sense in punishing some poor Wise Man who’s behaved perfectly all month.

     Last year I was only helping with the play. Granted, this meant memorizing the entire thing and putting on a silly angel costume, clothes hanger wings and all, so I could follow kids around the stage and whisper the lines they inevitably forgot, but I’ve been doing that for years. It may be tedious, and occasionally embarrassing—imagine being the only seventeen year old on a stage full of toddlers, wearing a pipe cleaner halo. Now imagine your crush sitting in the front row, watching his baby sister play Mary. But at least I knew where I stood. I had my job, and I did my job, and I moved on. Someone else was there to handle all the real work, to tell me what to do, and to put a stop to wrestling matches between the shepherds.

     Now I’m in charge—completely, single-handedly in charge—and if I hear one more sheep scream because his shepherd pinched him, I swear, there will be bloodshed. And it won’t be mine.

It is occurring to me that I may not have been the best person to put in charge of twenty three little kids. I’ve never been exactly patient.

     And how seventeen children can collectively forget the words to “Away in the Manger” after four weeks of rehearsal, this year alone, is completely beyond me. Everyone knew it on Sunday. Everyone knew it five Sundays ago, before we even started practicing. But today. Today they forget.

     Six children have also each grown or shrunk since the costume fittings last week, and I won’t be sleeping tonight. Why? Because I have to take in two angel costumes, lengthen the hem for one of the shepherds, swap two Wise Man outfits, take in the hem for one, and widen the collar of Mary’s dress, because apparently she can’t breathe. After that, I get to make new crowns for two of my three Wise Men, because they broke them this morning, make four new sets of angel wings for the same reason, wash the angel costume a little sheep threw up on, and find a new box of myrrh. Ours went missing, by which I mean Joseph probably stole it last week and left it at his grandma’s house.

     Celebrating Jesus’ birth? Forget about it. I’ll be too busy praying the angels don’t set the church on fire with those stupid candles someone’s mom insisted they hold.

     Christmas is my favorite time of year.

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