One of my earliest memories is being in a nativity play. I guess I was probably five or six at the time. I remember I was a shepherd, and I wore a tea towel on my head, held precariously in place with string; and my dressing gown. I remember standing on the stage at my primary school quite vividly, a memory that is augmented by a photograph of the event that appears in our family album.
So it was with a slight air of disappointment that I went to Jake’s nativity play this week, thinking that he was going to be ‘a partygoer’. Now I am not entirely sure in which Gospel we find out that the partygoers enter the stable. So, I thought, this is the role that is awarded to those children not cast elsewhere and the not often seen competitive Dad in me came to the fore; or was it that I just wanted a more ‘traditional’ role for Jake: one like I had had? One that did not require explanation.
As it turned out I need not have worried since a couple of shepherds failed to turn up to school on the day of the production, whether they were ill or had stage-fright I will never know (nothing to do with me, honest), and so it was a wonderful surprise to see Jake come out of the wings dressed in a lovely shepherd’s outfit. I was so happy.
I am sure that I would have enjoyed the play whatever part Jake had played, and it was a great production, but the sight of him as a shepherd brought back so many memories for me; and helped me understand how he might be feeling at that moment.
Oh, and yes of course there were tears.