Mention the words “Nativity play” and misty-eyed parents conjure up images of cherub-faced children sweetly singing festive songs in front of a charmingly-constructed wobbly stable set with a shawl swaddled plastic doll in a manger as the centrepiece.
The reality of modern day nativities can be tears, tantrums, rivalry and complete losing of the plot... and that’s just the parents.
There’s been a lot of talk about modern day Christmas plays and how some parents are disgruntled at the way schools are scrapping the traditional Christmas story in favour of updated versions featuring aliens, spacemen, footballers, robots, Jeremy Kyle and even Lord Sugar bellowing: “You’re fired!”
Personally, I’m all for moving with the times and I find the modern takes on nativities refreshing.
But traditional or modern, all parents are filled with pride when they see their child take to the stage for their five seconds of fame.
With so many children to fit into the play, it is inevitable not everyone can have a starring role and so many youngsters find themselves given minor parts so everyone can join the show.
So top marks for the teachers of today for coming up with some truly original and bizarre smaller parts when doling out the minor roles.
I’m not talking about run-of-the-mill little parts like trees, snowflakes and stars, but totally off the wall parts like a Christmas cracker, a piece of straw and even a flea.
My favourite tale though was of the little kid who played the part of the door knob on the innkeeper’s door when Mary and Joseph knock on hunting for a bed for the night.
It must be a tricky task for teachers as I’m sure they try to choose children with clear and audible voices for the speaking parts.
But sometimes, there is a certain typecasting and when I was growing up, the cutest, blondest girl always landed the starring role.
As the goofy looking Asian lass with pigtails and NHS specs, there was no way I was ever going to get picked as Mary was I?
If casting decisions in school productions ever get you down, console yourself with the thought that the ones who get the bigger roles are usually the gobby kids who always get in trouble for talking in class.