We've had our annual reading of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. We were looking for inspiration as we have, by default, become the director of a Christmas pageant just as Grace Bradley (played by Loretta Swit in the movie version) did.
Grace Bradley, the mother who takes over when the pageant director of many years breaks a leg, is a character worth emulating. She shepherds the unruly Herdman children as they take over the play, defends their right to be there, and doesn't pale at their behavior even when Mary is found smoking a cigar in the ladies room, Baby Jesus is loudly patted and burped, and the gifts of the magi are replaced with a much more practical (in the view of the Herdmans) Christmas ham. In the end she appreciates that the Herdman's interpretation of the events at Bethlehem comes from the perspective of a family that very well understands the difficulties faced by a family that we usually think of as more holy than human.
Our own experience of being mother to pageant participants gives us great empathy for the child who would rather not be there, can't not fidget, hates to dress up, would rather play hockey with the shepherd's crook, lipsyncs songs, refuses to stand by a girl, or wishes they could be any other part of the nativity than the one they have been assigned. They all hang in there for one reason or another - Mom or Dad's evil eye, threats, bribes, promises, or the carrot-on-the-stick of all-you-can-eat Christmas cookies after the pageant ends. Maybe they even get something out of it. Right?
And it is always the best Christmas pageant ever. Right?