© 2011 Aaron Atkinson

It’s a long, long way

Now 30, I’m excited to celebrate my first Christmas as a married man. The other day I was thinking back to the first Christmas that I can remember. I was five and in Kindergarden. 25 years ago and in Canada… life has certainly taken me a long, long way.

I was a shy, curly-haired kid in Kindergarden. Early one December, Mrs. Lawrence sat the class down on the carpet after lunch and announced that we would be performing the Christmas story during our school’s Christmas pageant. The whole school would be there, she explained, and so will many of your parents.

She went on to tell that many of us would need to choose a part in the scene. Timid, yet smart, I knew the story well and made my mind up that a shepherd would make a fine, subtle role for me. But Mrs. Lawrence had other ideas….

Mrs. Lawrence: First we’ll need a donkey. Scott, will you be our donkey?

I never did like that Scotty. Mrs. Lawrence was a crafty type-caster.

Mrs. Lawrence: Next we’ll need three wisemen. Who would like to be wisemen?

She selected Ryan, Jason and Richard from the raised hands boys.

Mrs. Lawrence: And shepherds. We’ll need two.

Up popped my hand. I even stretched and wiggled my tiny fingers enticingly. No way she could overlook me.

Mrs. Lawrence: Matthew and Jonathon.

With slumped shoulders and a disappointed sigh I lowered my hand.

Mrs. Lawrence: And who would like to play the part of Mary?

Many girls raised their hands and Jessica was selected.

Mrs. Lawrence: And now for the leading role with three whole lines, who would like to be Joseph?

Lines?!? The last thing I wanted was to be was Joseph. I’d rather be a sheep or a cow or something. Just not Joseph.

A dozen boys, more eager than I, raised their hands at the opportunity to take the leading role. Mrs. Lawrence pondered but ignored them.

Mrs. Lawrence: Aaron! You’ll make a fine Joseph.


On the day of the big performance we all took the stage. Clad in an itchy, oversized bathrobe Jessica, er Mary, and I got the news that we had to go to Bethlehem. With robotic squeakiness I made my theatrical debut as I pronounced my line for the whole auditorium to hear…

Me: Bethlehem? It’s a long, long way!

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