Faris the Rascal was a shepherd in his school’s Christmas concert. He wore the self-same shepherd’s costume that his cousin, Jack, donned some fourteen years ago. It’s a good thing, don’t you agree,
that the Youngest of the Darling Daughters, like her mother, cannot help but hoard anything of even remotely sentimental value. Even though, fourteen years ago, she couldn’t begin to guess the future for the shepherd’s attire.
I seem to remember that Jack was a solemn shepherd who then, as now, took his responsibilities seriously. Our Rascal, from what I can see from the photos I have been sent, approached
the whole Looking After Sheep business with rather less concern for the safety and well-being of the animals in his care, one of which he appears to be wearing on his head. Honestly, I wouldn’t put it past him to have established a Gambolling Den for
Wayward Woolly Ones.
Down in Deepest Wales, the Duracell Bunny, aka Young Morgan, is a reindeer in his school play. The Darling Daughter in Law says, sadly, that
he doesn’t have any words to say - though exactly what a reindeer would say, given the opportunity, is beyond me. Last year’s play was just for the Reception Class so every child had an important part to play, young Morgan being one of fifteen
kings. Fifteen! I wonder how they decided what presents they would all bring, once the gold, frankincense and myrrh had been allocated? Both Year 1 pupils like Morgan, and Year 2 pupils are performing together this year so, understandably, the main parts are
going to the older children. Next year, perhaps, my grandson may land the part of a central character. A shepherd would be good - then he could give Jack’s costume another airing…
When I was six years old, I was honoured - and scared stiff - to be given the part of Mary In our Infant School Nativity. Philip Green, the greengrocer’s son, was Joseph and Audrey, of the fair hair and beatific smile,
was the Angel Gabriel. I still have a photo recording the occasion and even from the distance of sixty-four years, can remember most of the names of my fellow actors.
I can also remember the words
I had to say: “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me according to thy word.” Honestly, can you imagine any six year old today being given such a mouthful to recite with any hope of understanding?
I’m not sure how good I was in the part - I do recall having a self-indulgent weep when my teacher berated me for my “squeaky voice” - but I don’t think I stole the show, in
the way the little lass playing Mary in the Christmas concert put on by the primary school for children with special needs of which I am a governor did this week.
She made her slow but courageous journey to Bethlehem with the help of her walker, tastefully decorated with blue tinsel, and once seated on the dais clapped enthusiastically throughout the remainder of the performance. The most severely disabled pupils
played the part of icicles and snowflakes, their wheelchairs decorated with sparkly lights. As they gathered at the front of the church, their teachers held a white sheet above their heads in which they tossed dozens of cotton wool balls representing falling
snow. It was truly magical.
Well done to all the teachers and teaching staff for helping the children to play their part so beautifully. For some of the
children, just entering a building as large, as magnificent, as overwhelming as an ancient church was a formidable challenge. They couldn’t have done it without the loving encouragement of their teachers.
I walked home part of the way with some of the children and their teachers. They were all so very proud of themselves though the teachers did admit it had been exhausting. My job - to welcome one and all and hand out programmes
- had not been particularly taxing by comparison so my words of praise were heart-felt.
After the children had been shepherded across the road, I walked on alone,
humming “Come and join the celebration!” in my customary weedy voice. It was a freezing cold day, so I stuck my hands deep into the pockets of my winter coat where my fingers closed around something I must have picked up, without thinking, from
the floor when we were clearing up.
It was a cotton wool ball. I think I will leave it in my pocket so that every time I put my hands in my pockets I will feel
it and remember a Very Special Christmas Concert.