Once upon a time, Lesley was a member of a small church in the suburbs. Every year toward the end of Advent the members of this church would create a living nativity. About a week before Christmas when most people were busy getting ready for the holiday, this congregation would conscript a few members to begin the preparations for the living nativity. Out on the front lawn of the church, the volunteers would slap together a few boards in the shape of a stable. Costumes would be created out of old sheets and bathrobes, so that children from the congregation could be dressed up as Mary and Joseph, shepherds, angels and wise guys. Then the children would be arranged in the make-shift stable so that people passing by in their cars would be reminded of what took place in Bethlehem on the first Christmas. The church was located at a fairly busy intersection and year after year, Lesley would marvel at the fact that the Living Nativity had never caused an accident, as drivers strained to see a motley band of children pushing and shoving each other inside what only remotely resembled a stable.
The Living Nativity was the brainchild of Deedee the dreaded church organist. Deedee was a rather severe woman, who always wanted everything to be done just so. Deedee worked hard to plan various grand events that she felt would benefit the congregation. But somehow, Deedee’s grand plans were always beyond the capabilities of the volunteers she usually managed to conscript. Over the years, people in the congregation learned to hide whenever they saw Deedee coming toward them with her clipboard. If Deedee managed to corner you and your name was put onto her clipboard, you were sunk. Once your name was on the list, you were one of Deedee volunteers.
Deedee’ s conscripts never really knew what it was they had volunteered for until they arrived for the first rehearsal. By then it was too late, because Deedee had never been known to let a volunteer slip through her hands. Deedee the dreaded church organist was a hard taskmaster. There was only one thing that Deedee disliked more than uncooperative volunteers and that was children. Deedee was convinced that children went out of their way to mess up her grand plans. But Deedee had to tolerate children in her living nativity, because try as she might, even the dreaded Deedee couldn’t convince any of the adults in the congregation to dress up like angels, shepherds, and wise folk, and stand outside in the cold, in a dilapidated stable. Adults were only too pleased to offer up their children as sacrifices to the dreaded Deedee in order to avoid the cold stable themselves. Continue reading