Most of you may not realize that in 1971, Mary, the mother of Jesus, braided her hair and wore bright red patent leather shoes.
The shoes stuck out even more with their gold buckles glaring from undeneath a powder blue gown and white shawl.
Fortunately the braids weren’t too noticeable beneath the white head covering I had to wear.
All I had to do was sit there in the manger scene next to Reg Adams and look down lovingly at the doll in the crib full of hay. Reg was playing Joseph, my husband. I don’t think Reg talked to me the entire night. He was nervous. I could see his hands shaking the sleeves of his dad’s bathrobe.
I’d have given anything to be in my dad’s bathrobe that night like all the other boys playing shepherds and wise men.
But Miss Berry picked me to be one of the Marys in our Christmas program for the Ben Franklin Elementary PTA.
We had two scenes that included Mary, back in the day when public school Christmas pageants still had live nativity scenes in the same show with chorus numbers like “I saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”
My friend Patty played the Mary who got to ride the donkey at the first of the show.
I played the Mary who had just given birth to Jesus, now sitting in the barn in red patent leather shoes.
I’d rather have had one of the boys pull me across the stage on that donkey.
At ten I had no clue what must have been going on in the heart of a young Jewish girl who wound up pregnant right before she was supposed to get married. In a culture where they stoned you for such things.
And I can well imagine the rocks that came in the form of words. The looks of disgust. The friends who walked away.
The names she must have been called. Behind her back. To her face.
And yet somehow she knew that none of that mattered.
He had chosen her to bring Peace to the earth.
It’s a big thing to be chosen.
Especially when you’re the kind of kid who wears red shoes.