Advent, is not only the Advert season, as I mentioned in my previous post, but the time for the Carol service and the Nativity play, endless pre-Christmas parties and extra gatherings for family and friends and, of course, the inevitable present-hunting and wrapping, and food shopping and house decoration and tree hunting and holly hiving…..and so on.
But, first I turn my attention to that central event of Advent – the Nativity School Play – one of the highlights of any proud parents’ year, though at a couple of my daughter’s early schools they seemed rather keen on an “alternative version” which totally deprived me of the immense parental pride of seeing my little girl looking angelic (if only for the time of the performance!). Not that I wasn’t proud of her, she had done lots of Nativity plays and I have enjoyed them immensely, but on those occasions, oh how I longed for the traditional Nativity Play!
I particularly enjoyed one in a church in Cirencester, which was held for the residents of an Old People’s home and the local Special Needs School. I had the privilege of helping the elderly people and it was such fun to see all their faces lighting up in the church when we witnessed the miracle of real sheep, goats (you have to be kidding..!), chickens, rabbits, and other assorted animals, along with a beautifully attired cast from the school, together with some very angelic angels and regal wise men. However, the best was the entrance of Joseph with Mary on a REAL Donkey!
The performance was made somewhat more interesting for me as my mother had also brought along her Lurcher, Amor; they were seated right by the sheep and Amie was exceeding disconcerted by this proximity, but it proved only to be a Mexican stand off and everyone retired home unharmed!
My overwhelming maternal pride at a Nativity performance came quite unexpectedly though. Our local church here (not Badminton) was giving its annual Carol Service, which for some reason I decided to attend on a whim. I asked the Churchwarden whether it would be alright to take Ellie into the church – despite the notice on the gate which says “No Dogs in the Church Yard” – and he graciously conceded.
Some of the children in the church were fascinated and somewhat distracted to see a big dog, who looked suspiciously like the big bad, grey wolf, but she had an unanticipated opportunity to show her worth even more.
Ellie, as you may have gathered, is quite a practiced church-goer, like Amie, so I was totally unconcerned as to her behaviour, despite the children’s curiosity. What happened next took me totally by surprise.
When the children had duly lined up at the altar to give their little Nativity Performance, the Vicar said: Oh, the only thing we seem to be missing is the little donkey.”
Now, this was somewhat disingenuous as I do know remember other animals being present in the church, but I said, before I could possibly stop myself, being on occasion a somewhat impulsive person, and recalling immediately how when Ells is sulking and not getting her own way, she bears a remarkable resemblance to Eeyore!
“Actually we have!”, I said.
Ellie was duly invited to approach the altar and I took her up on her lead. What happened next astonished not only me… Ells lay down by the altar, without demur, and proceeded to stay utterly still throughout the performance even though I had retreated to the Chancel step. She did not do any of her normal, “I belong to the local rent-a-dog group”, nor hound the children in anyway.
Clearly a born performer she lay down quietly right in front of the altar throughout and at the end retired most gracefully back to our pew. Being a brindle grey and quite large it would seem that the children found her a most satisfactory substitute for a real donkey.
So much so that one little boy, who was getting fractious, as it was way past his bedtime, so his mother decided to take him home, said very clearly on their exit:
“Good bye, little donkey, good night!”
Waving all the while, the child departed; my parental pride in my nativity star performer knew no bounds. After all those years I had finally seen my little girl, albeit the canine one, star as brightly as any angel in the school nativity play. It truly was a great Christmas present for me and I was told that everyone else enjoyed her enactment too.
Please do check out the Seasonal area of the website and sign up for the free weekly emails, which hopefully will inspire you to create your Prettiest Christmas ever! I know that I have always relished looking up new ideas for Christmas!