Tuesday, December 13, 2011

second annual alternative infancy narratives

Mary, baby Jesus & the lesser known archangel Gloria

Maria's preschool held their annual Christmas pageant this morning. Originally cast as an angel, she promoted herself to archangel. She did not, however, wish to be a boy archangel like Michael or Gabriel, so in a burst of uncharacteristic radical feminism, I sort of invented/discovered a hitherto unknown archangel named Gloria. Perhaps taking these liberties with the religious education of small children accounts for the following exchange that took place between the girls a few minutes before we left for the pageant. 

Maria and Bernadette are playing "Annunciation". In full costume.
Maria is a very no-nonsense Gabriel. Bernadette is allegedly Mary, but without the grace and total fiat that one typically associates with the Mother of Christ. 

Gabriel: Mary, you must have a baby in a stable. 

Mary: Okay. (sounds more like "O-tay")

Gabriel: You must name him baby Jesus. 

Mary: No. I want to name him baby Stawbewy Sort-tate. 

(Now ensues a lengthy and heated argument between the Blessed Virgin and the Archangel Gabriel. Luckily, it does not come to blows. Not really bad ones anyway. Finally it subsides into a negotiation of sorts, however Gabriel does not back down one inch. Mary soon has to give up all hope of compromising by naming her baby Baby Jesus Strawberry Shortcake.) Even though Gabriel has won, he rubs it in a bit by repeating his demand one last time.

Gabriel: You must name him only Jesus. 

Mary: Okay. 

Gabriel: And He will be holy above all names. 

Mary: Okay. 

So Maria's got it pretty straight and she's quite rigid about how it all goes. Perhaps she's missing a wee bit of the spirit of the whole thing though. Bernadette needs remedial catechizing. Just this week we were cuddled on the couch and she saw a little illustration of the Trinity. I asked her if she knew who all the figures were and she correctly answered, "Dod, Deezus, anda Howee Spiwit." Then I asked her if she knew where they live. I was expecting "Heaven". I would have also happily accepted "Church" or "My heart." Instead she said, "Pennsylvania." I laughed. I hugged her. I very half-heartedly corrected her. She's not even two and half yet. If she wants to picture God living in Pennsylvania, well, she wouldn't be the only one here to occasionally take that liberty.