“I want to be a shepherd! They get to carry big sticks.” Luke swung his hands, pretending to hit Carl with an imaginary stick.

“Not me. I want to be a wise man. They get to wear a crown!”

“They’re not real. It’s just a plastic crown. I saw ‘em last year.” Elizabeth spun her head to toss her hair as she spoke.

“So! The baby’s not real either.”

“I wanna be a cow.” Tommy started crawling around the stage on his hands and knees. “Mooooooo!” Several other boys joined in.

“Ok. Children, quiet down.” Ms. Randall put a finger to her mouth to signal for silence. “Tommy, bring your herd over to the group and sit down so we can get started.”

“Can I be the little drummer boy, Ms. Randall?”

A few laughs went through the group. “There is no drummer boy in the nativity scene, Garrett.”

“If he plays the drums, then I wanna play the guitar.” Tommy interjected, jumping to his feet and playing ‘air guitar’ while shaking his head.

“Cows don’t play the guitar, dummy!” Elizabeth looked at her friends and rolled her eyes. “They don’t have hands. Duh!”

“Tommy, sit down. Now everyone listen. I’m going to name off the different parts and you can go stand with the group for whatever part you want. If we don’t have enough in each group, though, I’m going to have to move some of you. So don’t be disappointed. Elizabeth and Larry, you’ll be Mary and Joseph so go stand by the manger. Cattle? Over there next to the piano. Wise men? On the other side by the edge of the stage.” She continued working through the roles – shepherds, sheep, angels – pointing each to a different part of the stage.

When she finished Garrett was the only child still standing beside her. His raised eyebrows asked his question.

“Garrett, I’m sorry but there is no drummer boy in the nativity.”

“Uh huh. I heard about him in a song. He plays his drum for baby Jesus.”

She scanned the groups on stage. “We need another wise man. You can be that or you can be a cow or sheep. Which do you want?”

His shoulders and head slumped forward as he walked toward the stage. “I guess I’ll be a wise man.”

 

*****

 

“Garrett, I wanted to tell you how proud I am of your attitude tonight. I know you didn’t want to be a wise man, but I’m sure you’ll be the best one.”

“Thanks mom. I’m ok with it after talking to daddy.”

Mom cast a surprised glance at dad who was concentrating on parking the car. “Well, good.”

“He told me how the wise men were special, that they traveled a long distance to see Jesus. He said they wouldn’t let anything stop them from giving their gifts to him. I gotta go. I want to have plenty of time to get in my costume. See you after the program.” He grabbed his backpack and slipped out of the car.

“Bye, honey!” Mom called out and then looked at dad again. “Good work, Dad.”

 

*****

 

“There he is,” Mom whispered. “Get a picture!”

“I’m trying! But there is a huge head in the way at the moment.”

“I knew we should have sat closer to the front.”

The auditorium was dark except for the lights on stage and the flashing of cameras. We Three Kings played through the speakers as the children walked from the back of the room toward the stage.

“He’s such a handsome young man.”

“Like his father?”

“He’s like his father in more ways than that.”

“What does that mean?”

An elderly lady in the row ahead of them turned and glared.

Mom leaned in closer and whispered softer. “Let’s just say he has your mischievous nature.”

“Me? Mischievous? I can’t even spell it.” Dad grinned.

“I know. Unfortunately, he gets his spelling skills from you too.”

By this time the wise men had reached the stage and were, one at a time, kneeling at the manger. They each placed an item on the ground as they did, representing the gold, frankincense and myrrh mentioned in scripture.

“What’s he doing with the manger?”

“I don’t know. It looks like he’s reaching under it.”

They both watched with shock as they realized what he was doing. As they feared, he pulled a tiny drum from under the manger and placed the strap around his neck. He then beat it a few times before moving to his spot with the other wise men. Several children snickered, but Garret’s face showed only a serious sense of duty.

The narrator started again as the music faded, but Garrett continued to move his drumsticks as if playing.

Dad was watching Garrett, but he could feel mom staring at him. He finally looked over at her.

Her accusing look gave way to a smile. “Stop at nothing to give their gifts, huh?”

“What can I say? He’s got his mother’s stubbornness.”