It was the most exciting thing to happen to any kindergarten child. Out of all of the kindergartens in my hometown of Wellington, Kansas, I was selected to be Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the community Christmas pageant put on in the High School auditorium (later this building was the Junior High).
I was giddy, I was excited, I was ready: it was the role of a lifetime, after all. Being a star in the pageant I was able to bring friends along, so I chose my doll to be the babe Jesus. My costume was crisp white cotton with a sky blue mantle. I had no lines but I did have to look 'holy' and 'serene' - those were my stage directions. I was shown pictures of Mary looking everything from sanctimonious to simply bored and had to craft the correct persona and attitude. My public would expect no less. Rehearsals took place with musical numbers by mixed choirs from schools across the community, band numbers from the high school and the tableau with background music of "Silent Night", "We Three Kings", "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear", and the like.
I had to be in place as the curtain rose, and the spotlight beamed down on me by the rough wooden manger, my doll playing his role to perfection, and myself. There may have been a Joseph, wise men, and shepherds but I was focused on my task of sitting very still, with hands in a prayerful attitude and a serene look on my childish face.
As the curtain pulled back, the spotlight, warm and bright, hid the majority of the audience filling the large auditorium, I felt as if I had come home. This was the natural water for this little fish. Maybe this was why my family always called me a little "ham", a "showoff", and other terms not so memorable. I was a natural and soon I would be grown with a star on my bedroom door.
I just knew it with the certainty only a kindergartner can know or understand. I knew this was the case, despite being later upstaged in the program by a fat man in a red suit and a fake beard.