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(With apologies to Luke's Chapter Two) by Bob Wekh

1 And it came to pass, that there went out a decree from my son's preschool, that all teachers should be taxed to their emotional limits by having their students put on Christmas programs.

2 And this decree was first made when Virginia Sokol was teaching my son's class at Highland Christian School.)

3 And all went to the stage to practice, everyone in his own little world, including Joseph, who wore red hightops and a semi-punk hairdo.

4 And I also went unto the school, in the city of Bellevue, Washington, for I had vowed to watch these rehearsals and the final performance, even if holiday traffic was the pits.

5 And with Mrs. Sokol were two assistants, who were great with patience, even when in the middle of "Away in the Manager," an angel said unto them, "Teacher, I'm tired of standing."

6 And so it was that, while these 4-year-olds were there, Mrs. Sokol brought forth the script for the program in the fellowship hall; because there was no room for the program in their classroom, being as they had recently packed Christmas presents for their parents, using millions of those white polystyrene plastic chips and the place looked like a scene from the movie, "Avalanche."

7 And there were in the same fellowship hall shepherds abiding on the stage, keeping watch over their jingle bells, because they were to be used later in the program. And for 4-year-old shepherds, jingle bells are infinitely more fun than wooden staffs because they make noise-and to misplace them is a major bummer.

8 Besides the shepherds, also abiding were Adam and Eve, Noah and three sets of animals from the ark; this was no ordinary Christmas program, you see, but more of a Cliffs Notes of Biblical History.

9 And, lo, the first rehearsal came upon them and I was sore afraid because (a) there was a near riot when the jingle bells were passed out (everyone wanted blue); (b) Noah and Eve were flirting, which wasn't going over big with Adam; and (c) Joseph was so in tune to this historical re-enactment that he spent most of the time stretching his lower lip forward with both hands in the apparent attempt to make a suitable landing pad for a small helicopter.

10 And as the rehearsals continued, one of the angels started to take off his rugby shirt and Noah got his hand stuck in his pocket and the ark nearly capsized and Joseph missed a practice because of the flu.

11 And Mrs. Sokol said unto me, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. For unto you this day in the city of Bellevue, has been given one of the smoother practices, based on fiascoes we’ve had in the past-like the time two staff-wielding shepherds tried to re-create the Luke Skywalker-Darth Vader battle scene."

12 But, verily she reminded me, the children before you have their hearts in the right place, even if one of the rabbits from the ark occasionally gets mixed in with the three kings.

13 And, seeing the wonder of the rehearsals, I figured this shall be a sign unto the parents that the final performance is going well: Ye shall find your babes wrapped in bathrobes and standing on the stage, none of them picking their noses and each of their zippers up.

14 And, suddenly, there was a multitude of nervous parents and teachers flitting around as if backstage before a Broadway performance of "Hello, Dolly," and a multitude of angels and shepherds and kings saying, "Teacher, I have to go to the bathroom." And, lo, I knew it was show time.

15 And it came to pass, as the parents exited backstage to be seated and prefocus their camcorders, that Adam, in so many words, said that it was going to take more than the lure of an apple to get him out on that stage. And he wept.

16 And, lo, a voice from afar comforted him saying, "Hey, what a nifty outfit; not even the real Adam had thongs:

17 And another voice, this one from a panicked mother who had arrived with her plain-clothed child, came down from above, saying, "Oh, no, the kids weren't supposed to come in costumes today, were they?"

18 And then Noah spake, saying, "Aren't I supposed to have a mustache and beard or something?"

19 Then Mrs. Sokol beckoned the children, saying, "Let us now go unto the fellowship hall, and smile big smiles for your families."

20 And Adam wept no more, settling, instead, for grim-faced defiance.

21 And when they had come to the place beneath the star, and stood each on his piece of masking tape, Mrs. Sokol rejoiced with exceeding great joy, as if she had just led a party of climbers to the top of Mount Everest, and said to the audience, "You don't realize this, but you have just witnessed a miracle'

22 And those who had come unto the stage found the babe in the manger with Mary, who looked as if she would rather be anywhere else than in this manger-say, doing wind sprints in Death Valley in late August.

23 Meanwhile, Joseph was delayed, having tripped on his shoelaces and fallen flat on his face while going up the steps.

24 And they brought forth a gift-a birthday cake with three candles, which Mary blew out in only three puffs.

25 And they sang, each in his own key, a multitude of songs, including "Happy Birthday" to Jesus.

26 And, suddenly, a sound of great joy resounded from on high. For the audience was fervently clapping, having realized that their children-in all their innocence and imperfection-had proclaimed to the world the perfect Christmas message: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

27 And, lo, at least one such parent felt a lump in his throat and asked himself, "When was the last time I did as much?"