Someone decided to give me the big wings.
I don’t know what they were thinking, but they should have thought again. Really, the rethinking should have begun when they were deciding the cast list. I wanted Raggedy Ann. It was perfect for me. I even had a jean jumper with a heart on it that I could use as my costume. That’s a big selling point for church plays.
And I was the music minister’s daughter. There are times when nepotism is acceptable – particularly when assigning roles in the Christmas pageant.
But, no. I found myself – 10 years old, 5 foot 2-and-a-half and painfully still growing - waiting for my angel costume before the dress rehearsal. My best friend, also on angel duty, had managed to talk me out of my disappointment by reminding me of my awesome cameo in the song about Abraham and Isaac where I rushed downstage to grab Abraham’s hand before he sacrificed his son. There’s something in that – if you’re going to have a murder-stopping angel, you might as well make it a tall one. That definitely beat “being taller than my 15 year-old sister” on my list of good things about getting a growth spurt at a freakishly young age.
I was starting to remember the angel costumes – shimmery white fabric and cute little sparkly wings and head bands with golden halos attached by an almost-invisible wire. There could be side benefits to this. Connie, the director, was headed our way with an armful of white and glitter. She handed Deborah the costume on top, the beautiful silky one, and told her to go try it on to be sure it wasn’t too long. I knew I wouldn’t have that problem.
The scratchy pool of fabric dropped into my arms with an emotional thud. No shimmer. No silk. Just boring old white. I looked up for an explanation.
“Sorry, you’re too tall for the angel costumes we have. Try on this choir robe to see if it will work.”
I swallowed the disappointment pooling in the corners of my eyes and nodded. That was the beginning of the costume horror. The choir robe, unfortunately, fit perfectly, unlike the halo headband. It bit into my scalp until the raw spot behind my left ear bled and Connie made me take it off, even though I was trying to ignore it. She decided the best alternative would be to simply lay the halo on the top of my head, making me look like a cross between Caesar and a deranged Amazon. Even so, I reminded myself of my special Abraham moment, and kept a fairly good attitude.
The morning of the play, I attempted to keep that attitude as I filed in behind Deborah, whose jauntily aloft halo barely reached my nose. My wings were about three times the size of her cute fairy-style ones, sticking out several inches from my shoulders. I had already taken out Noah and a few sheep. This was going to be interesting.
In the bustle of getting on stage, I managed to trip over Deborah’s trailing robe, nearly sending both of us to the floor and rearranging the ficus trees rather haphazardly. By some miracle, we were in position in time for the first song and neither we nor the trees died in the process, though my halo barely squeaked through. Now I just had to wait for my moment.
I had a sinking feeling as the music began for the Abraham song. In theory, my part was easy: all I had to do was get to the front of the stage, grab Abraham’s hand, then get back to my place without causing any unplanned disruptions. Theory, however, didn’t take into account the monstrosities on my back.
I stood up and edged around Deborah, carefully stepping over her hem. That much was successful. My wings, on the other hand, clipped three kids sitting in front of us. When I turned to apologize, Deborah got a face full of glittery wing. Taped music waits for no angel, so I skipped Deborah’s apology and forged ahead.
The trees were still in the way from our previous encounter, and my wings seemed anxious to continue that fight. As my verse drew alarming close, I found myself doing battle with two ficuses and Raggedy Andy. All eyes were on me, not the singers. The chorus ended, and I was still entangled in the trees.
Then I heard it. My cue.
I broke free and lunged for Abraham…
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