This Christmas, our grandchildren wrote and performed a play for the family, “Finding Your True Story”, which they had created, in the few days before, with our help. It featured a complex story line, thanks to the imagination of our granddaughter CQ (9). Grandson OPN (8) made sure there was plenty of action. Baby JL (6 mos) played a starring role. At one point, as we worked up the scenes, props, costume and dialogue, CQ observed “there’s not much Christmas in it!” A few days after the performance, it dawned on me that a true story of Christmas lay hidden within, and we later discussed it with the grandchildren.
A Story of Truth Lost, and Redemption
The play began with a reading by CQ, in a white gown with a glowing necklace, from a large, ancient (fictional) book of myths. In the story, evil is cast upon the world, and on stage a dark shadow (OPN) entered, casting black crepe and placing an evil looking LEGO Tie Fighter in the corner. The story continued: Two siblings were born, Eleanor and Alexander, with the power to defeat evil. But they could succeed only if they knew the truth about their powers and worked together.
In scene two, two sibling infants named Alex and Ellen, played by baby JL and CQ, are sitting on a beach when they get separated in a sudden storm by a huge wave carrying giant alligators, played by OPN in a green sweatsuit while wearing alligator oven mitts. Many years later, in scene 3, the two children (now CQ and OPN) have become friends, but they do not know they are siblings. Together, they hunt along the shore for materials that they use to help the local villagers. They wonder about their families, and Ellen hopes that someday they will find a message in a bottle that tells them the truth.
One day they find an ancient book of myths along the beach – but some pages are missing, so they can’t tell how the story of Eleanor and Alexander ends. They also find a pair of Jedi light sabers, and a magic necklace. Then Ellen finds a large bottle with magic lights and a message inside. When she grasps the bottle, it begins to drag her away, despite Alex’ effort to help her. Alex then grabs the light sabers and the necklace and chases after. In scene 4, he finds her chained in a cave, guarded by evil birds. She dons the necklace, they activate the light sabers, and together they battle free of the evil birds. They exit the cave, grabbing both the magic bottle and the ancient book that were sitting on the table.
Back on the beach (scene 5), they examine the book and the bottle. Ellen opens the book, finds the missing pages, and reads “The evil organization tried to keep them apart, but the good prevailed, and the evil was finally cast from the world. The End.”
Then Alex takes the message out of the bottle and reads: “The two of you were lost in a storm many years ago. You are brother and sister. You are each other’s family. Together you can do anything.” The two children hug each other as the stage lights go off, leaving the family in tears (of course!). Scene 6, a comedic postlude, involved singing and dancing to the music of “All I want for Christmas is a Hippopotamus.”
A Meaning of Christmas
As CQ was building the plotline, I loved her idea of having the main story of two kids, separated as infants, fit within a bigger story, the myth of Eleanor and Alexander fighting evil. They carried the idea off beautifully in the performance. It did seem at the time, though, that this fanciful, action-packed story was very remote from the Christmas image of baby Jesus lying in a manger.
But a couple of days later, it dawned on me that the story also held a deeper truth. One of the beautiful things about the Christmas story is that it reminds us of the sphere of innocence when a baby is born into the world. As we think of baby Jesus, born into such humble quarters, yet adored by his parents, the shepherds and the wise men, we can identify with that innocence. In truth, all of us arrived in this world in just the same state of humble innocence. Truly, we are all brothers and sisters. We are all one family.
Yet as we grow up, we forget this truth. We begin to forge our way in life and as we do, we forget our humble and innocent origins. We begin treating people as “others” or, worse, as “enemies.” But sometimes, perhaps, as we contemplate the Christmas story, or experience the joys of parenthood or grandparenthood, or find love and sweetness in other people or in nature, we can remember this truth. We are all born as equals, as innocent and helpless babes. We are all one family. And if we could hold onto this truth, and treat each other with love and respect, then, like Eleanor and Alexander, we could learn to work together to accomplish anything – including defeating evil.
Such a world would be a marvelous place. This is a true story of Christmas. Thank you, my grandchildren, for giving us this blessing.
The birth of baby Jesus.