A situation at this year’s Christmas pageant

Published 10:38 am Monday, October 31, 2022

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Dear Aunty Pam,


I’ve got a sticky situation and I’m hoping you might be able to help.

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My granddaughter, age 10, signed up for this year’s Christmas pageant at our church. The pageant is always the story of the nativity and she was hoping this year she’d be chosen to play Mary because she’s been in the pageant since she was 6 and never gets chosen.


Last Sunday I picked her up after Sunday school and she was in tears because once again, she hasn’t been chosen to play Mary. The Sunday School teacher gave her the part of the Innkeeper who tells Mary and Joseph that there’s no room in the Inn for them. Rehearsals start next Sunday and she’s so upset she doesn’t want to take part. What’s worse is that my granddaughter is overweight and told me that every year, whoever is chosen to play Mary is always a slim and pretty girl.


She is so distraught and I’m worried that she feels that, because of her weight, she is of little value and that just breaks my heart.


I’m considering talking to the Sunday School teacher about this to see if she’d consider swapping roles for my granddaughter. My husband says I shouldn’t do that. What do you say?


Concerned Mee-maw




Dear Mee-maw,


Aunty Pam can offer real empathy for your granddaughter—not just sympathy, empathy. Always the tallest girl in class, I’d win the part of a palm tree, although I was dying to play the donkey—so not quite the same passion as your granddaughter. But I understand that feeling of being passed over and suspecting that someone else got the coveted role because they were cuter—although Douglas Channing did have big ears and did a much better donkey bray than I did.


I don’t think I’d have that talk with the Sunday School teacher. I mean, what are you going to say? “I’d like you to break the heart of the child who landed the part of Mary in the pageant and give it to my granddaughter, who I fear is having issues with self-esteem?” You can’t do that. It smacks of those Little League parents who start butting into games and yelling at the referees.


But here’s what you can do. You can sit down with your granddaughter and go over the play and show her how pivotal the Innkeeper’s one line is. Explain to her that the entire point of the nativity is to illustrate that the Christ was born into utter humility in order to serve God and man. Not into a wealthy family, not into a royal family, but to two, modest parents in a stable, or as many theologians believe, a cave.


Had there been room in the Inn, that would have been nice, particularly for Mary, but it’s still not as humble as being born among smelly livestock and a manger of hay. So it’s pretty clear to Aunty Pam that it’s the Innkeeper who has the most important, supporting role.


(Although it might also not hurt to remind her that being the most important ain’t what the Christmas story is about…)


Cheers, dear!

Aunty Pam