Saturday, December 18, 2010

The meaning of Christmas

I will be the first to admit that my knowledge of Bible stories, and the church calendar, is actually pretty poor. Thanks to my mother for informing me that the 12 days of Christmas actually start on Christmas Day leading up to Epiphany on January 6th.
At our church playgroup last week the leader acted out the story of the Annunciation of Mary, when the angel Gabriel appeared to her to tell her that she was going to become the mother of the Son of God, the baby Jesus. I am sure it's not the right reaction, but here is what I think when I hear that story:
Angel Gabriel: "Mary, you're going to have a baby."
Mary: "What the...?! I'm not even married yet, man! Joseph's going to think I've gone and gotten knocked up by some other guy [this is where Joseph's visit by an angel comes in handy; I can see how the guy might not be convinced by the story]
AG: "And, oh yes, no pressure, but he's the son of God."
M: "Riiiiight..."

Last Sunday I had a note written in my calendar which read: "Innkeeper costume!" Blake's pre-school ambitiously staged a nativity play on Thursday, and he had been cast in the role of innkeeper, with this line: "I can give you my stable." We had been practicing lots at home, although most times I would ask the preceding question and he would just reply, "Yesssss!"

I had been Googling nativity costumes, and it seems there is a trend for "pushy parents" buying expensive nativity play costumes in order for their little ones to stand out among the crowd. I knew that I didn't want to spend a lot of money on something that was really, in the grand scheme of things, not that important, and another part of me - the part of me that causes the dark circles under my eyes when I over-plan, procrastinate, and generally do things in a very unwise or impractical way - had a plan to create his costume. I hesitate to say sew because, frankly, I don't know how to do that, but concoct something - I felt surely that was within my creative abilities.

I was supposed to devise this plan on Sunday; I imagined I probably needed to find some fabric, research some techniques, and maybe even start putting the pieces together. As often happens, Sunday came, and Sunday went, and well, I didn't even think about the costume. I did go up into the loft to get down the Christmas decorations, and while I was up there I happened to see, hidden away in the eaves by the door, a roll of fabric left by the previous owners. Ooh, it was like being visited by the Angel of Lost Sewing Causes! I pulled it down and it was perfect: a big roll of nice navy fabric just right for my project!

After I dropped Blake off at nursery on Monday, the mother of the play's Mary was telling me what she was going to do, and it sounded easy: fold a piece of fabric in half and sketch out a T shape, cut a slit for the neck, and then maybe loosely sew up the sides and sleeves, for a sheath effect. I thought I could do that!

Later that evening I set to work. I even got Raina's sewing machine out on the off chance that I might remember the details of a very brief tutorial she'd given me in 2007; turns out it has an Australian plug and I couldn't find an adaptor, so that was out. I would have to resort to the "basting" technique taught to me by my mother. In all honesty, I did enjoy making my little creation. I did make quite a big mistake which was to cut the neck opening WAY too big, so that when I put the outfit on Blake, the hole which was for the neck was as wide as his shoulders and it just pretty much slid off him. I had to go back and stitch it up a bit more, but I went to bed that night feeling ok about what I'd put together.

I had also drawn the short straw for refreshments, as when I saw the sign-up sheet on the door to his pre-school room, everything easy was gone so I was left with "assorted sandwiches". I boiled some eggs for some egg salad sandwiches, and also did some ham and cheese and tomato ones. I felt like that was definitely assorted enough.

The big performance time came, and it was hilarious. All the parents were gathered, excitement was in the air, and it was showtime! And honestly, if you blinked, you might have missed it - it lasted about 1 minute and 30 seconds. But it was very cute - we didn't hear Blake say his line (we're not entirely sure whether he did say it), and they did a really good job, keeping in mind that most of the kids are only or not yet 3. I was quite proud of my sartorial efforts, and I think Matt was too (he paid me a roundabout compliment by saying that he had thought we'd be on the "lower end of the costume efforts" but that actually he thought we were on the "higher effort end." I do love the use of the word "we"...I can write that because I don't think he reads this blog very often).

Father Christmas then paid a visit and Blake was very excited to receive a toolkit. We then had to deal with questions about why Santa came early but I left those to Matt. I had used up all my creative energy in the past 24 hours!

Tea towel/dish towel for head scarf, my homemade sheath robe, braid from a shirt of mine, and Noah's teething keys = one innkeeper!

Blake looks rather less than energized here - he didn't have a nap all day so he was pretty tired by 5:00 pm...

But, toolkits can change that, and he's back in the room!

And so, I'll probably pack up the little costume with the rest of the Christmas decorations, so that we could use it again next year. I wonder if Mary had that feeling, that night in the manger, that she would do anything for her newborn baby, including making him clothes. No doubt she was probably a better seamstress than I am, but then again, swaddling clothes probably didn't need much needle and thread to get the fit right.

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