Making Winter Magic
Reminisce|December / January 2017

Revel in the best of the season—Christmas plays, birthday celebrations, holiday decorations and snow.

Ruth McNeill

WHETHER I WAS WRITING or directing them, Christmas plays were a highlight of my childhood. I was 8 in 1957 when I came up with the idea for a revised nativity story. The three kings would get together in their old age to recall the long trip they made to Bethlehem in their youth. I was mostly in charge but got a lot of help and support from my mother.

Cast members and I painted the palace scenery on brown paper in our basement while Mother supervised. We held rehearsals in our dining room, and I suggested what the actors should say.

The morning of the performance, Mother hung the scenery across the swinging door between the dining room and the kitchen. Dad pushed the heavy dining room table on its casters into the living room. My sister and I collected every chair in the house and set them up in rows facing the palace and the adjacent alcove, where most of the action would take place.

Throughout the three scenes of the play, children from the neighborhood paraded through our dining room dressed in robes, rags, shawls and make-do crowns or halos. For that short time, they became kings, shepherds, angels and, of course, Mary and Joseph. One little angel had a stain on her robe, but nobody seemed to care; after all, she was only 3.

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