Friday, December 6, 2013

The Life and Times of a Christmas Angel...

I have always enjoyed watching and being apart of Christmas pageants. I love all the drama, the glitz, the overacting, and the beautiful choir melodies. I grew up being apart of a Christmas pageant every year, and these pageants went on for about 2 weeks. As a kid is was a fun way to spend time with family, because we ALL took part; but I do remember one Christmas when I didn't feel so ecstatic about being in the holiday pageant. It was the year that I was cast, in the most coveted part of every nativity scene, as the Christmas Angel. Now I do not recall ever being asked if I wanted to be the Christmas Angel, but apparently the length of my hair, the color, and the ability to rat it out to enormous widths and heights was what earned me the part. The director told me that I would be soaring above Mary, Joseph, and the Baby. That I would be holding a golden star, and that around my feet would be clouds. I would also be the first child to walk out towards the stage, holding my star...I would be the leader and the crowning point of the nativity. Sounds heavenly, right? Little did I know what all this actually meant.

At first, I was excited. It was fun practicing with my fellow "Nativiters," but then the dress rehearsals came and that is where the excitement faded. I began to loathe being the Christmas Angel. I remember trying on my costume for the first time, and my six year old self knew immediately that somehow some sadistic human being crafted it. The airy clouds that I imagined were instead a cage of chicken wire ( about 20lbs) that hung from white suspenders; cotton batting surrounded the cage which added to the weight. Then came the wings...enormous, heavy, with frilly itchy white garland sewn to them...and they were also attached to the suspenders. Then came the lovely star! The star was attached to a thick wooden rod - much like a jousting stick. The star itself was dangling at the end- heavily sturdy. The actual white linen dress I had been wearing for the "mock" rehearsals, which I naively thought was my costume, was the only comfortable thing about my whole get up. I was hot, itchy, and felt like I was carrying a 50lb sack of potatoes around my midsection. My mother was not happy about the weight, but there was nothing to do about it, we were a week away from the performance. Added to all of this was my curled and then ratted out ( which is not a comfortable process). I looked like I had been electrocuted. I was one miffed angel. Why oh why could I not have been cast as Mary? I mean all she had to wear was a smock and a scarf! Oh Mary...Mary did you know how I coveted your costume?

After donning this white contraption I was made privy to my angelic route to the manger. I was to walk down the auditorium aisle (roughly a block), up to the stage, climb on top of a wooden box, and hold my angelic self and star for a 20 minute choir song. The director soon realized that I was incapable of climbing atop my cloud wouldn't let me. So I was lifted onto the box and gripped the jousting star for the life of me. At one point the weight of the star began to get the best of me, slowly it began to dip... I remember the director saying, "Tiffany...don't let it jiggle or drop cause you will hurt Mary and Joseph. Can you hold it a little higher sweetie?" Hurt MARY AND JOSEPH? Hold it a little higher? Lady, if I could get down off of this box I would hurt you...grumble.
The two weeks of pageant dawned on us all. Each night I was uncurled, ratted, spritzed, painted, and donned with the cloud of doom. I was not very jolly after all this had taken place. To my credit though, I smiled every night and every night I heard Oooo's and Ahh's when we appeared. The sweet nativity was a hit and I was glorious...

I am sure that many people came to know the true meaning of Christmas that year. I am sure that our simple nativity reminded all that many years ago our Savior was born, but this angel was so happy when the performance was over. Taking my costume off for the final time, I looked my Mother square in the eyes and said, "Mama, I don't EVER want to be the angel again. Next time I want to be Mary."
The next year I wasn't Mary...I was, however, a dancing bear, which suited me just fine.

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