This is a special edition of the Fairly Tales–special for two reasons:  it celebrates Christmas, and it celebrates faith.  Merry Christmas!

Anchor-Christmas-Pageant-2010-049-CopyOnce upon a time there was a fairly named Stephanie who had never been to church.  I know, that seems really strange to us because we have so many churches that we can go to, but we have to remember that fairies are imaginary, and leprechauns are imaginary, so it makes sense that their fairlies and leprefauns would be imaginary too.  And you don’t find very many imaginary things in church—at least, I hope you don’t.

But one Christmas time, the church down the road from the sugar bush was having a Christmas pageant for everybody in the neighborhood.  Have you ever been to a program where they had Mary, and Joseph, and a doll in a manger, and lambs and donkeys and shepherds and angels, and everybody sang songs and got a box of candy when it was all over?  If you’ve never seen one, you’ll have to make plans for next Christmas, because they’re pretty special, and the candy is good, too.

But getting back to the church down the road:  Stephanie’s mother tried out for the part of the main angel, and nobody recognized her as the tooth fairy, but everybody just thought she was already in an angel costume with the wings and all, so she got the part.  And Stephanie was jealous.

“Mom,” she whined, “if you’re the maingel, can’t you have assistangel?  I’ve got wings too, and I would help you say all the angel stuff like ‘Hark!’ and ‘You better be good, cause I’m watching you!’”

Stephanie’s mother was so patient it’s sickening.  “First of all, I’m the main angel, not the maingel, and the people in the church have already picked all the other angels they need.  Besides, you have green hair, and angels are supposed to have brown hair, so you can see their halos better.  And what do you mean about angels telling people to be good?”

“Well, whenever it looks like I’m going to get in trouble, you say you hope the angels are watching me.  I figure they’re like invisible policemen,” Stephanie replied.

“More like rescue squads,” her mother said under her breath.  “But anyway, I have an idea how maybe—just maybe—you can be in the pageant too.  I’ll check tonight at practice.”

Stephanie did her happy dance until her feet weren’t happy any more, and then she did her happy sit down and tried to concentrate on the present she was making for Grammie.  (She knew that Grammie liked cats, so she was trying to build one out of cattails, pussy willows, and caterpillars.  She had picked some catnip, but didn’t use it because she didn’t want Grammie to get bitten.)

She worked all the time her mother was at practice, and had just finished cleaning up her kitty litter when she heard the back door open.  Her mother appeared with a bundle under her arm and smiled as she held out the package to her fairly excited daughter.

Stephanie opened the bag and looked in, and all she saw was a bag of white.  But when our little fairly reached in, she pulled a furry piece of cloth with a zipper and a tail—what do you suppose it was?  It took her a moment, but finally Stephanie realized that she was looking at a lamb costume.  “I’m a lamb?” she asked sheepishly.

“It will be a sacrifice, but I know you can be the best lamb in the whole pageant,” her mother said.  “Besides, it was the only costume they had left that would hide your wings and your green hair.”Anchor-Christmas-Pageant-2010-044-Copy

“But no one will know who I am!”  Stephanie protested, even while she was trying to figure out how to put on the costume.  “My first performance, and no one will be able to see me.”  She zipped up the belly and looked at her mother.

“I would know those big brown eyes anywhere,” replied her mother, proudly.

Stephanie turned a couple of circles, trying to see all the way around herself.  “And I’ve got a tail!” she said finally.  “How am I supposed to sit down?”

“Don’t worry about the tail, honey.  Just try not to set your butt on the buttons, or you might become undone.  Now let’s practice your line,” her mother said, putting her arm around her favorite little Christmas lamb.

“My line?  I only have one line? Bah!” the little fairly complained, using a word she had learned from her Uncle Ebenezer.

“That’s enough practice,” said her mother.  “Now if Mr. Paul asks you to say your line, just say it.”

“Who?”

“No, not who!  You’ve only got one line, so don’t mess it up.”

Stephanie had no idea what her mother was talking about.  “Bah,” she repeated. 

“Now you’ve got it.  But you need to wear black on your feet, so you’ll have to wear your toe shoes,” continued her mother, referring to what she wore for her tap dancing lessons.  “I’ll be wearing my heels.”

Well, as you can imagine, Stephanie was at least half a foot confused, so she changed the subject.  “I think my antennas are wrinkled inside this costume.”

“Don’t worry about it—a little extra iron in your diet will straighten everything out,” her mother replied.  “Now—let’s get something to eat so we can go to bed early and be all rested for tomorrow’s pageant.”

“Bah,” said Stephanie.

“Very good,” said her mother.  Stephanie didn’t know what she was being praised for, but she was happy that her mom was happy, so she took off her lamb costume and went to get a salad for supper.

The next day passed much too slowly, but finally it was time for the main angel and the confused lamb to enter the church for the pageant.  Stephanie’s mother made her put her costume on before they got to the church, so that no one would recognize her.  They went in the back door, where everyone else was gathering, and Stephanie was amazed.  There were cows, and donkeys, and other lambs, and boys in bathrobes, and girls in white nightgowns, and three funny-looking guys with crowns on their heads.  A woman was asking in a loud whisper, “Who has baby Jesus?  Mary, do you have baby Jesus?  Keep him inside your robe until it’s time to put him in the manger.  And Joseph, this time just knock on the inn door—don’t knock it over, OK?”

Stephanie wondered if that Joseph was supposed to knock on the out door, too, but she didn’t know who to ask.  “Bah,” she said.

The man in charge heard her and raised her voice a little.  “Lambs, I’ve told you before—don’t say your line until the angel appears and the light comes on.  Do you understand?”  The other lambs nodded their heads, but Stephanie was too confused. She just sighed and sat down on her buttons.

Then the lights went almost out, and there was some talking, and some singing, and Mary and Joseph walked across the stage, and Joseph would have knocked over the inn if Mr. Keeper hadn’t been there to catch it.  And then the cows and donkeys and lambs were all sent out on stage, and Stephanie couldn’t believe her eyes.

There was a whole crowd of people in the long seats, and a few were standing up taking pictures, but the little fairly hardly noticed them.  What she noticed was the beautiful colored windows with pictures on them.  Candles flickered on every windowsill, and green wreaths and red flowers were everywhere.  Stephanie didn’t know that bigginses could make things so beautiful.

Then a bright light came on, and somebody whispered, “Say your line, sheep!” and everybody said “Baa!” except Stephanie, who said, “Who?”  And then she heard her mother’s voice.

“Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.”

And then there was a lot of talking and singing, and before she knew it Stephanie and the other lambs were herded off the stage, and then her mother guided her out the back door and they were on their way home.

“Did you like the pageant, Honey?” her mother asked as they walked up the dirt road.

Stephanie thought about it for a moment, and said, “I guess so, but I don’t know what it was all about.  It was a little confusing to me.”

Her mother smiled.  She knew that confusion was her daughter’s fairly normal state; but she also knew it was time to tell her something that she had meant to talk about for a long time.  “Did you hear them talk,” she asked, “about the baby Jesus, and my speech about the Savior which is Christ the Lord?”

“I guess so, but I just thought it was part of the play,” Stephanie replied.

20 days old baby sleeping in a christmas nativity crib“It was part of the play, but it was the most important part,” her mother began.  “Once upon a time, there was a great big powerful person named God who made the whole world, and all the animals, and even the bigginses.  And then He sent His son out of the sky into the world so that everyone could be happy and could live with Him forever.  That son is Jesus, the Savior and Lord that I talked about.  He was born as a baby many, many years ago, and Christmas is His birthday.”

Stephanie was puzzled.  “You said he made the bigginses—did he make us, too?”

“No,” replied her mother, “you have to remember that we’re imaginary.  The Maker in the sky created bigginses with imaginations, and they created us.”

“But you said that Christmas is Jesus’s birthday—what about Santa Claus?”  Stephanie didn’t ever remember getting presents from some baby Jesus, so her mother’s claim had scared her a little bit.

“We’ll talk about Santa Claus another time when you’re a little older,” her mother said.  “But for now, you need to know that Jesus is as real as real can be, and anything good or beautiful in the world comes from Him, and you need to learn to love Him just like you love me.  And tomorrow is His birthday, which makes us so happy that we give presents to each other; and that’s what Christmas is all about.”

And Stephanie kept all this things, and pondered them in her heart.

Now, I know that Joshua, and Dawson, and Emilie all know a little bit about Jesus, but today would be a good day to ask Daddy or Mommy more about Him, and what it meant when the angel called him “Savior” and “Lord”.  When we have birthdays, we turn 6, or 7, or 8, (or maybe 30 or even older!), but this year Jesus is older than parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and Christopher Columbus all put together.  And He’s still alive, and having a birthday every year.  Happy birthday, Jesus!

And next time, if the jello doesn’t mold and the turkey doesn’t lose its stuffing, I’ll tell you how Stephanie Learns a Lesson.

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