Monday, 10 December 2007

The Christmas Nativity

A tradition of schools in generations past has been the school nativity play. I heard on BBC Radio 2 this morning that only 1 in 5 schoools will produce a nativity play this year and I think that this is a sad reflection on today's politically correct society.

School heads are so concerned about being offending other religions that they no longer celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with the traditional end of term production in which the children take the starring roles in their school nativity play.

On a lighter note, I am going to start re-reading Gervase Phinn's delightful book A Wayne In A Manger. Gervase Phinn was a North Yorkshire schools' inspector for many years and he has produced some wonderful tales of the children he met during this time. Naturally, as an inspector, he got invited to many schools for their nativity plays and this book is an anthology of his favourite infant nativity plays.

Much of this book is in Yorkshire dialect, so those of you who are unfamiliar with it may have some difficulty understanding, but the title of the book refers to an incident when the vicar asked the children the name of the baby whose birthday they were celebrating. One child was insistent that 'It were called Wayne' and nothing could shake his belief and the vicar was becoming increasingly short tempered; insisting that the baby's name was Jesus. The story goes that the child insisted that the baby's name was Wayne: 'I know 'cos we all sang about it in assemby: "A Wayne in a manger, no crib for a bed."'

Christmas Wishes

I wasn't sure what to write about today until I visited Beverly at Tea Time and Roses and read this post. She writes about longing: waiting and wishing for something and how when it finally happens; sometimes it is in a totally unexpected form. If our hearts are not open to allow our dreams to be realized; we can miss an opportunity that presents itself because it is not in the form that we expected. To quote from Beverly's post: 'Sometimes we want something so badly, when it does not match the vision in our heads, we toss it aside even though it screams everything we ever wanted.'

At this time of year, it is easy to get caught up in the frenzy of Christmas preparations and to forget the true meaning of Christmas. It is also too easy to feel deprived if we can't afford all that the retailers are telling us we need or should want.

We all have hopes and dreams but time teaches us that our lives do not always turn out as we expected. The important thing is to remember that we should be open to these opportunities ~ they may come in the form of a chance meeting with a stranger; an act of kindness to someone in need or the support of a loved one who believes in us.

Three Christmases ago I saw a shooting star on a lonely hillside in North Yorkshire ~ it was a couple of nights before Christmas and we had been out for the evening. Driving home to our rented cottage on the Moors; we stopped to stare at the magnificence of the night-time sky. Away from the light pollution of the cities, we were able to see more stars than I could have imagined. The sky was inky black and the stars shone brightly ~ it was cold and we did not linger long, but just as we were about to return to the car; a bright light shot across the sky.

I made a Christmas wish that night and I am still waiting for it to come true, but I try to remember to be open to the possibility that it may not happen as I expect and to keep believing. I have the support of a very special person who believes in me and who has supported me on my journey and for this I am truly grateful. I know that without him, I would not have made it this far.