All the joys of the Nursery School Nativity
The photo says it all doesn’t it. Deserted old baby doll, an MDF crib and a hastily assembled sheep made from silver foil rolls, cotton wool and PVC glue. Add to this several pairs of gold cardboard wings, some tinsel halos, 3 paper crowns (sharp-edge free), plenty of stripy sheets and even more recycled curtains and what do you have? The show any perfect Christmas wouldn’t be without: the School Nativity. It’s the pride and joy of every parent, but also the source of their greatest anxiety: Will they remember their words? Will they cry or have a tantrum mid-way through? Or will they, like the nightmare of one parent at a nativity my sister attended last year, projectile vomit all over the front row of the audience? For the teachers, even the smallest nativity is a mass production of prodigious strategic complexity… reminding the children to smile, to sing, to stop picking their noses, steering the little angels in the right direction, and pulling them away from where they’re not meant to be, remembering the words to the carols on their behalf and of course watching out for that same nativity-shattering tantrum.
Today was my first visit to a nursery school nativity since I myself took the starring role of Wise Man back in 1987. I was the proud uncle to my dear 3 year old nephew, whose performance of Innkeeper 2 (although we never saw number 1) was surely worthy of a nativity Oscar. With a dashing pair of orange curtains and a stripy tea towel making him every inch the Bethlehem local, he played his part seamlessly, without any of the dilemmas forecast above. But amidst his younger peers, particularly those newcomers trussed up in cotton wool outfits as sheep, or tinsel and paper wings as angels, the tears rippled through the ranks with a domino effect. First the eyes, seeking out parents in the packed audience, started to water; then, with eyes closed tight, as if in slow motion, the first gut-wrenching cry began to emerge. No sooner had that child been hastily picked up and removed so as not to disturb the plodding rendition of Away in a Manger, than another was set off by the disturbance, and so the process continued, while all the time, the older children carried out their roles with pride, and yet some apparent confusion. The carols were well sung, and surprisingly, the little 2-4 year olds remembered an awful lot of the words. Sadly in our case, the songs had to be somewhat hastily recited and the show quickly wrapped up – The nursery school decided that despite its being a typical English December – i.e. freezing – it would be a good idea to hold this year’s nativity outside (apparently the new school facilities weren’t big enough for an inside show). So with only their little sheets/ curtains/ cotton wool/ tinsel for comfort, the poor children started very quickly turning into ice. Meanwhile, the audience, cramped unusually close together (for a reserved english crowd) in order to keep warm, struggled to take photos as our limbs started to fossilise in the cold.
But one can’t moan. This is what Christmas is all about – rocking out the traditions whatever the weather, ensuring that our little ones are full of the magic we experienced as youngsters, and which as adults we can invariably only find in the depths of a large glass of mulled wine. So before I go off and find that same magic in a bottle of the red stuff, and while we’re on the subject of nativity, just time to share with you what has to be the best nativity set available on the market. Made by Italian kitchenware wizards, Alessi, this set of unbelievably cute ceramic figures in a very contemporary red (or white) glossy crib complete with smiling shooting star, grows every year, with new characters added on an annual basis. You can see a little animation of all the series on the Alessi website. And in the meantime, check out my photos below. Oh, and as ever… Happy Christmas!
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I was Mary once, but then got replaced by a little girl named Gladys who had brown hair. Crushed, I asked why I couldn’t continue (there were few preformances). The teacher told me that everyone knows Mary doesn’t have red hair, and (ah, the moral) everyone needs to have a turn to participate. Even at 8, I was a little quick on the draw. I replied, but Mrs. Caroline, didn’t Jesus have red hair and pointed to the painting of an auburn Jesus on the wall. The lessons we learn at 8. 🙂 Enjoyed this read! Thanks.
Disgraceful! Who knows what colour hair Mary had and who cares anyway… I’m certain such discrimination wouldn’t happen today. Having said that… I noticed only girls were dressed as angels and boys and shepherds… are there not female shepherds and male angels? Angel Gabriel being one example? Not that I want to take political correctness to the limit of course! Hope all well with you in the run up to Christmas. Thanks for your comment and support.
Oh i just LOVED this blog!! Being in Vancouver I SO miss a good nativity!! We are not allowed to do anything remotely religious! We did our ‘holiday concert’ yesterday (not even allowed to call it Christmas concert!) The teachers all still had the same anxieties and strategic problems to get around. After all that practicing you NEVER know what’s going to happen on the day!! Even with the tears and talkers, vomitters and tantrumers it always seems to go well and they are always cute! You made me very homesick with this, but you got it spot on and took me back! Thanks 🙂
Holiday concert… PLEASE! That’s ridiculous! If they’re including the story of the birth of Christ, then why can’t they call it Christmas! Absurdity! Thanks for your comments Milliewoo… I love waking up to them each day just as much as I love writing the blog in the first place! xx