Monday, November 28, 2011

A Night in Bethlehem

On Saturday night we went to the Stone Gate Center for the Arts in Pleasant Grove to "A Night in Bethlehem." Rachel wanted to dress up as Mary so we got a costume together for her, complete with the blue veil she insisted Mary wears. Then she decided she didn't want to dress up alone so I dressed up with her, but not as Mary, even though she really wanted me to. I wore my Palestinian dress. She wore a dress we got for her in Egypt.

As we were loading into the car, Andrew smacked his head on the van door—he had just buckled Miriam in and was trying to stand up quickly (a little too quick if you ask me) in order to ask me to grab a pair of shoes for her. He hit his head so hard he was reeling for the rest of the night. He's feeling fine today, though, and there's no bump on his head so it couldn't have been too bad, simply bad enough.

I was surprised at how wonderful the event was, really. It was about as accurately Bethlehem-y as you could get, being in Utah. They had a stall with live animals—inside the building—a basket weaver, a potter, a toy shop with dreidels, a bread shop with hummus, a rug maker, a school where you could learn to spell your name in Hebrew, and various inns (which were all full). They even had a well in the middle of the room with a beggar woman sitting beside it. I thought it was interesting to see how everyone avoided her, even though we all knew that everyone there was only acting. People avoided her gaze, the walked huge circles around her. I even began to feel guilty that I, truthfully, was not carrying any money and had nothing to give to her.

What an interesting social experiment it would be to sit around watching people interact with this beggar they all knew wasn't actually a beggar.

Rachel went up and spoke to her, though. She spoke to everyone there, I think.

And when Mary and Joseph walked into the room she just about died of excitement.

We were all gathered to the front of the room where the inns were and Sister Card sang Do You Have Room? while Joseph tried to find a room for a very pregnant Mary. Rachel was excited that she knew the song—she likes to listen to the CD I have of that song while she goes asleep (now that it's past Thanksgiving and Christmas music is permissible in our home). After that we were ushered into another room with the stable at one end and the hills of Judea on the other end and the rest of the story was acted out with an angel announcing to shepherds the birth of the Savior and the shepherds making their way to the other end of the room to the stable. The same was repeated with the wise men.

The audience sang along with the choir of angels, which was wonderful. I love singing in large groups.

At the very end they invited the children to come up to the stable where Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus were, while the audience sang O Come Let Us Adore Him.

Rachel all but ran down the aisle to the stable. She wanted to be first in line to see the Savior. I thought it was very sweet that she was so excited and yet was able to be so reverent. Miriam needed a little more assistance making her way through the crowd—Grandpa acted as her guide.

On our way out we got to walk through a display featuring over a hundred different nativity sets. That was fun, too.

I'm so glad we got to go—it's certainly gotten my girls excited about the real meaning of Christmas.

Rachel is now constantly asking what different things "represent."

"What do the gifts we give each other represent?" she asked. "Are they supposed to represent the gifts the wise men gave baby Jesus?"

Sometimes she surprises me with her ability to understand things. She's really growing up and it's quite an honour to watch.

This is completely off topic but for some reason I thought of it so I'm going to write it down before I forget.

I'm Canadian and I apologize for things all the time—it sometimes used to bother my American friends that I'd apologize for things I was not at fault for. But Rachel gets this.

Today Grandma was working on her Christmas train and she went into the garage to look for some nails. She was gone for a long time and when she came back inside Rachel asked her if she had been able to find what she was looking for. Grandma said that she had not.

"Oh, I'm sorry you can't find the right nails, Grandma," Rachel said sincerely—not because it was her fault but simply because she genuinely felt sorry that her grandma's search was unfruitful.

This evening before bed Rachel did it again.

I brought a laundry basket of folded clothes into the girls' room and set it down. After doing all the laundry and making perogies and hefting children all day my back was feeling a little bit sore. I voiced my complaint.

"Oh, I'm sorry your back is sore, Mommy," said Rachel and she came over to tenderly pat my back.

Is it possible she already understands empathy?

She understands so much already that it worries me that I won't be able to teach her everything she needs to know. I suppose that's why it takes a village to raise a child.

I'm lucky to have such a wonderful village around me—our parents, who invest so much love in our children, and other wonderful people, such as the Botts, who live in my parents' ward and run Stone Gate.

How would I ever manage to raise my children without all these other wonderful people picking up the slack?


  1. Also off topic, but you reminded me of a joke: How can you find a Canadian in a crowded room? Just walk around stepping on people's feet until someone apologizes to you :)

  2. Doug, that is funny because it's sooooo true. ;)