Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Christmas At Martha's House"

In honor of Christmas I wanted to post a story that my mom wrote. She labeled it as fiction, but there are A LOT of events in this story that really happened. It is rather long so I will post half of the story this week and the other half next week. Enjoy!

Christmas at Martha’s House

by Jeri Doner

Call me Martha. Better yet, don’t call me at all until at least the middle of January. I thought I had all the preparations for Christmas under control, until the meeting that Sunday after church.

Five Sundays before Christmas: Claire, the Sunday school secretary, says, “We’re doing a play this year and I apologize for not getting together before now.” It seems the Sunday School Superintendent put her in charge and gave her a copy of the play he had chosen. It took her three weeks to convince him that it just wasn’t right for us, and to come up with another script. I’m surprised she convinced him at all. But now we’ll have to work extra hard to get it ready, if we think we can, if we aren’t too wrapped up in our own little interests, if we really have enough faith that the Lord will enable us. And my kids think their generation invented peer pressure!

Our friend Ron says he’ll build the scenery. I never even knew he could do that. Bonnie will play the piano, as usual. The boys would rather stay home and watch football. I inform my fourteen-year-old son, “If the rest of the family can get involved, Tom, you’re going to do the same. It’s not going to hurt you one bit.”

My husband and two girls are asked to sing. How nice! Oh, great! They’ll all need decent clothes. Maybe Karen can wear her outfit from school chorus, and Karen’s red velvet from last year should fit Cindy if I can hem it up and locate the belt.

At the first rehearsal I offer to be in charge of costumes, partly because I love to sew and partly so everyone will understand that I am NOT singing. Suddenly everyone in the cast seems more interested in the whole project. The Superintendent told me I have to dress, “Mary, Joseph, three Wise Men, three shepherds, and an angel.”

“Who’s the angel?” I ask. Then he tells me. “She’s some angel!” I accidentally let slip out of my mouth. Maybe she can get by with a choir robe and some tinsel in her hair. One down, eight to go.

Mary, played by Claire’s favorite niece, comes to me and says how she would like her outfit to look. I really appreciate her enthusiasm and willingness to help. “I want a simple blue gown and white veil,” she says. Mary always wears something like that. I wonder what would happen if some year she showed up in brown and orange?

Monday: “If I’m going to do this, Lord, I’m going to give it my best effort. You deserve nothing less. Maybe it’s not important to anyone else, but it’s for You.” I glance through a book on historical costumes, and begin envisioning the three Wise Men. We don’t know how many there really were, of course, but I’m glad we decided to stick with tradition on this point. I couldn’t handle any more unruly teenage boys. They have become the Three Wise Guys.

I refuse to throw bathrobes on those boys and call them costumes. One will be a Mede. He can wear the long white gown I made out of old drapes for Trick or Treat. With the addition of a colorful yoke, a sword sash borrowed from a Civil War uniform, and a cardboard crown, he’ll be fine.

The next will be an Indian or African looking person. He’ll have a red and green floral tunic and matching turban. I’ll ignore the cracks about Aunt Jemima. Maybe we can borrow Mr. Halsey’s oriental kimono for the third. It is a bathrobe, but at least it’s not chenille.
Tuesday: The mother of one of the shepherds telephones to say, “I have a costume for him that my older son once used in a school play.” I thank her, thinking it probably looks like a bathrobe, but how do I say no without being rude? I quickly make some rather respectable looking costumes for the other two out of old sheets. No one uses white sheets on their beds anymore. I wonder what the next generation of shepherds will wear. Details like a rawhide shoelace for the front of the tunic and a rope from a plant hanger to secure head covering add a lot. The plant died anyway.

Joseph’s outfit is similar, though larger. He has a brown thing over top that a Mexican would call a serape. I’m not sure what a Hebrew would call it, and I don’t have time to look it up. When people know you sew they give you all sorts of fabric you can’t use. This is one chance to get rid of some of it. I wonder how we can hide Joseph’s blond curls.

Mary’s gown goes together easily. She can hem it herself. Her veil looks pretty good. It’s a strip of linen from an old tablecloth that had been chewed by mice. I might as well use it for something.

Halfway through my sewing, Tom’s teacher calls with a request and I agree, “Yes, I’d be happy to make popcorn balls for the high school class party.”

Four Sundays before Christmas: Today I learn I am responsible for props as well as costumes. No problem! Some boxes wrapped in gold foil will look a little like gold bars if I can find the tape to wrap them. I’ll see if I have a fancy bottle of bubble bath. It can pass for frankincense. Maybe we can get an alabaster jewelry box and pretend it’s full of myrrh. I hope those smart alec boys are careful with other people's breakables.

Monday: Now for the hard part. I have to convince my five-year-old daughter Cindy, that her favorite doll, Baby Wanna, is needed to play Baby Jesus. She isn’t enthusiastic.

Tuesday: Karen’s room mother calls and of course I can’t say no. “Yes, I can provide cutout cookies for the fifth grade class party.” I must be out of my mind. “Please, Lord, don’t let anything else come up.”

...Continued next week.

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