Amidst the month long hangover, binge eating and endless Die Hard repeats, it’s easy to forget that the magic of Christmas is for – and often comes from – the little ones. For many parents, such memories are created through the anarchic wonders of the School Nativity Play. Gef was there to report the insanity first hand…
We arrive ten minutes early. This is our eldest son’s first school nativity after all. We weren’t going to miss out on a good seat – not on your life! I waited patiently as my wife was having a needlessly in-depth discussion with the young girl on ticket duties:
I’ve got two spares here as my sister and Father-in-Law couldn’t come. Should I hand them to you?
My wife, Lisa, gestures openly, dangling the ticket out of her hand. The girl gestures not at all but does give off a look of simultaneous confusion and panic. She says nothing and Lisa retracts the ticket.
That’s ok, I’ll hand them into reception.
Alas! There’s nobody in reception and now there’s a queue of camcorder carrying Grandads and rabid-with-impatience parents behind us. I stand there vacantly, offering little to diffuse an utterly avoidable situation. She brought this on herself. I mustn’t intervene.
Eventually, we make our way into the hall.
Why did you assume that girl would bring anything to the table? She’s about 8.
Yeah, thanks a lot for your help by the way!
I didn’t want to intervene
I wasn’t aware at the time that people started queuing for the nativity at 6am but, as we scanned the jam-packed hall, it soon became apparent. There was one measly row of seats at the back: The row of shame; left for parents like us! The Mothers and Fathers who, sure, loved their kids but just couldn’t be arsed camping out in the wee hours with their flasks of Horlicks.
You said ten minutes would be plenty of time
I thought it was ample! Ample I say!
We were in denial about what we perceived to be our unwarranted place on the row of shame.
We see our boy’s name in the cast list and smile. It is quite the cast list too. In a society where overpopulation is the biggest challenge facing us, I think we’d all agree that the most pressing side effect of this is the scarcity of nativity roles available. In our son’s concert, five poor sods represented grains of sand.
Ridiculously, we realise that we’re both rather nervous about this. Would he cry and need his Mummy? Would an outfit snagged from Dealz for 4 quid cut the mustard? Would the gathered throng really believe he was an innkeeper – I mean how committed was he to this role? Most pertinently, would my intense Stanislavski training regime amount to nothing?
There was no time for pondering. In they came, this conga-line of cuteness, melting hearts and bringing the iPads, iPhones and iW*nkers (everyone) on to their feet. There we are, 100 teary adults crowded together like sardines into a tin box, watching tiny people with tea towels on their heads. It dawned on me fleetingly: This is utter madness.
Such lucidity was short-lived as the performance kicked into gear. F”ck knows how the teachers choreographed this but fair play. Getting our son to put his trousers on in the morning is something only Jedi Masters can teach. How you go about getting thirty kids between 4 and 5 years old to sing, dance, narrate, act and mimic is nothing less than sorcery. Witchcraft it is (yoda voice).
The kids are brilliant. Already, here you can identify the characters and social cliques they will belong to in future. The class clown is the donkey, prancing about with a stunning lack of self-awareness and flair, singing his own songs during the silent bits and wagging his tongue for laughs. This donkey has gone rogue. Then there’s the innkeeper: Stoic, serious, respectful. He is the guardian of both the inn and, in wider terms, the rules. The Wise Men are, ironically, anything but.
In 14 years’ time prepare to see this very same trio posting Facebook selfies in the Outback with the hashtag #LadsLadsLads. The angels have no right to be dancing with such finesse and grace so young. They’ll be the cool girls, dictating hairstyles, future fashion faux-pas and determining who is worth speaking to. Meanwhile, Mary and Joseph are the strident future leaders. We must respect the little ones with such confidence. For one day they will rule over us all. And, finally, the camels. Two of the hump-backed wonders have their fingers in their noses. Their future knows no bounds.
Unbelievably, no child weeps and only a few break character to wave manically at Mum and Dad. This is a dedicated bunch. I keep making eye contact with our son and grinning like a Cheshire Cat on hallucinogens. He gives the wryest of sheepish grins and then his attention is drawn back to the role of innkeeper. What a professional. Maybe he does have what it takes? F*ck it, who am I kidding? He’s the new Brando!!!
Young Marlon loses focus somewhat when his top-notch Dealz headgear lets him down big time. He spends most of the remaining 15 minutes of the performance yanking and pulling at it, visibly angered. You’d expect better from Dealz, you really would. Eventually, his kindly wife sorts it out for him. It’s a cute moment in a room full of saccharine sweetness.
Then, they finish on a Christmas hymn. You know the one – about Jesus. The donkey starts thrusting violently as the adoring crowd are brought to their feet once more. The singing is magnificently off key, as though there is a slight time lag from one side of the room to the other. Son makes a grand swooping pirouette to accompany his enthused proclamation about “The messiah!”. It’s a suitably batshit ending. The kids are alright.