Not, you understand, on the work/life balance front which has been frequently bordering on the ridiculous. No, easy in terms of the potential ‘Nativity nightmare’.
Because this year Sensible Son is ‘merely’ a narrator, thus requiring the wearing of only a passably clean school uniform. Binary Boy is ‘merely’ in the Choir, thus seemingly requiring the same as above. And Feisty Fellow, an appropriately typecast Curious Sheep, is merely to be be-costumed in his PE kit – black and white.
’Twas not always so.
A few years ago, the following festive scenario ensued:
Act 1: Enter on stage a son back from school.
‘You’re a what?!’ (mother)
‘A pig.’ (son)
‘A pig?!’ Since when has a pig featured in the Nativity?
‘Oh, and Miss said I need to bring in my costume tomorrow. White top, curly tail, pink tights.’
Pink tights?! Tomorrow?! Mother ponders the injustice of a world where a mother of three boys must procure pink tights. She picks up her mobile and phones a friend.
Act 2: A month later. Lights dimmed, audience hushed, rickety cot set up on stage.
Cue: A procession of small children. As the First Noel fades, Mary clambers up stage steps. Grasping the cushion that is threatening to fall out from under her dress, she looks round for her ‘husband’. Joseph is following at an appropriately manly distance – it’s not good for the street-cred to get too close to a girl – and is dragging a reluctant donkey. Back end stumbles over step and threatens to bring the whole cavalcade down.
‘Why’s dat cow wearin’ shoes?’ demands a front row sibling loudly, as the expectant couple and their donkey wobble their way across stage. His brother – Joseph, apparently – is alerted to the presence of his family. ‘Hi mum,’ he mouths, waving frantically. His mother smiles and quietly waves back.
Choir stands up; some even open their mouths. ‘Little donkey, little donkey….’ Manage the first verse before running out of steam. ‘Been a looooong time…’ A too tiny tot – should she actually be at school? – yawns loudly, the boy next to her jigs up and down obviously in need of a loo. Entire audience follow his every move; he eventually attracts the attention of the powers that be. Swiftly and surreptitiously, he’s escorted from the hall.
Meanwhile back in Bethlehem, a host of heavenly creatures arrive. Mary picks her nose, nonplussed, as trio of wise men deliver their gifts.
‘We bring yew frakn’sense, gold and fur,’ announces Melchior. Tittering in the back row. Balthasar whispers in his ear. ‘Myrrh…I mean myrrh!’ he shouts. Dissolves into tears and races from the stage.
Shepherds. The middle one – bedecked in regulation dressing gown and tea towel – has nits. Rakes at his head as his companions hand over their offerings…two lambs and what looks suspiciously like a dog. Mary and Joseph mutter their thanks.
All good so far, but where is pig?
Enter, stage left: a herd of pink porkers. Pants glowing like stars through too thin tights, they jiggle tails and wiggle butts to the tune of a farmyard carol based loosely on the Birdie Song. Disappear into the darkness whence they came.
Proud parent clapping, and the Nativity is over for another 12 months.
So this year my Nativity season, whilst potentially less entertaining, is decidedly less fraught. With no need for pink tights or other elaborate adornments, the dressing up box can stay shut and the tea towels by the sink. I need merely attend, and applaud expansively. Peace on earth…and hallelujah to that.