The Nativity Play: Becky Wade

Christmas! My favorite season of the year. I love baking Christmas cookies with my kids and distributing them to neighbors. I love the Department 56 Dickens Village I display every year. I love the Christmas Eve service at church, hanging ornaments on the tree, Christmas cards, and—you get the idea—a thousand other things about Christmas. But my favorite tradition, by far, is our family nativity play.

My grandmother had the gift of hospitality. She adored people and adored hosting them in her home. One Christmas Eve, early in her years as a grandmother, she (or one of her daughters) decided that the grandkids should put on a homemade nativity play for the adults. This was the result:

Wade 1

That’s me (at the age of five) in the hip mint-green mini skirt, starring in the role of angel. My two cousins and two sisters also had roles, though it’s debatable how much my youngest sister (who was one year old at the time and is being held aloft on the left side of the picture) contributed to the performance.

It was a humble beginning. But it was a hit with both kids and adults. Our family has put on the play every year since.

This next photo is from a few years later. I’m Mary this time, probably because this was one of those thrilling banner years when a real baby was available to play the part of Jesus. It looks as though the baby needed a bottle in order to make it through the performance, likely because of the odd way I was holding him. Note the good-natured dads who’d been roped into participating and my older cousin on the right who’d grown bored with the proceedings and decided to read to pass the time.

Wade 2

Several years later my family was traveling through Wales with another family over the holiday. We didn’t let that stop us. The nativity play had become such an integral part of our Christmas Eve celebration that we convinced our friends (and their dad!) to take part in the play. That’s me in the turban. We’re smiling hugely because we got our hands on another real baby!

Wade 3

When my sisters and cousins and I entered our awkward middle and high school years, we grew “too cool” for the play. We would have skipped it had anyone asked us our opinion. No one did. It had come to mean so much to my grandmother that she and her daughters insisted it continue.

In the photo below we had more warm bodies . . . uh, actors . . . than we were usually blessed with. I’m the one on the far left with the eighties hair and black-and-white-check bubble skirt. I’m not in costume, because early in my high school years I became the play’s director and narrator. Which was, by the way, a foreshadowing of my future career as an author of fiction. All these years later, I’m still directing and narrating characters’ stories.

Wade 4

My grandmother passed away in 1997. Every Christmas, we have continued the play in her honor with our own children—the great grandchildren she never got to meet—as Mary, Joseph, the angels, shepherds, and wise men. Here’s a shot of the nativity play from last Christmas featuring the next generation: my children, my sister’s children, my dad, and my husband.

Wade 5

The play is simple. As you can tell, we don’t have fancy costumes. The entire production takes no more than ten minutes. But it reminds us, on Christmas Eve, right when we most need to be reminded, exactly why we celebrate the holiday. At the end of the play, all the participants kneel around baby Jesus, the One at the center of the season, and everyone in the room sings “Silent Night.”

It’s a sweet family tradition. It’s our tradition. It makes us laugh. It reminds us of our grandmother. It reveals to us that time passes, but some things remain.

May God richly bless you and your family this Christmas!

Does your family visit a live nativity or attend a nativity play at Christmas time?

Connect with Becky on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.


Most Recent Release: Undeniably Yours

Undeniably Yours

When Meg inherits her father’s thoroughbred farm, she’s determined to shut it down, despite Bo, the handsome manager. Can he—and love—change her mind?

14 thoughts on “The Nativity Play: Becky Wade

  1. Hi, Anne! Yes, for us, the nativity play is SO much fun. Good for your daughter for being courageous enough to organize everyone a few times over the years. 🙂 It takes some wrangling.

  2. Hi Becky! What a joy to read about a family making such fun memories. Can’t you just imagine all this in twenty years? Love the costumes! Our family nativity tradition centers around the nativity scene we put up in the yard. Up until a few years ago (sadly, a ladder fell on the Virgin Mary . . . ), we had an all-white nativity that sparkled in the snow like you wouldn’t believe. After the ladder accident, we tried to replace it but couldn’t find anything new. eBay had old sets it just wasn’t the same. We modernized and love the new one just as much.

  3. What a fun tradition, Becky! And I’m envious of all those wonderful family photos you have. I love that you continue your family nativity. We read the Christmas story together, but acting it out has to be so much more fun.

    So – any realy babies around for you to get your hands on this year? Neighbors beware… 🙂

  4. What fun, Becky and what a sweet way to bring the nativity to life within your own family. I wish we would have thought of this when our kids and all the cousins were young. We would’ve had to borrow our “Mary” but we could have covered all the boy roles completely, as well as the cattle, sheep, and some years, the burrow.

    Love this! Thanks for sharing a bit of your family with us!

  5. Oh, that’s precious. Such great memories and what a legacy to pass down through the generations. Simple and memorable.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees writing as being a director with an unlimited cast and budget. 😉

  6. Thanks for your comments, fellow authors!
    Victoria – I have several indoor nativity sets but have never had an outdoor one. Love the sound of yours.
    Karen – no real babies for this Christmas. It’ll be another case of ‘doll in blanket’. Between my two sisters and me, we did produce 10 babies over a 9 year period. (!) But the youngest is now 4 and has retired the role of Jesus.
    Lisa, on my dad’s side of the family we had the opposite problem. Five female cousins and only one male. 🙂
    Deanna – yep. I enjoy having an unlimited ‘budget’ for my stories. I made my last heroine an oil heiress and had a ball.

  7. I love this story, Becky. Seeing you all in the quilts and afghans reminds me that Mary and Joseph probably had a hodgepodge of blankets and clothing as well. It’s fun to think of Mary wrapped in her grandma’s quilt holding Baby Jesus.

    Such a cute family!

  8. What a sweet post, Becky! Loved the photos. 🙂 Yes, we definitely put on live nativity plays for our parents…and participated in nativity programs at church. I was always sad that I never got to be Mary…only the girls with dark hair got to do that. haha!

  9. I love this!! The pictures made me laugh because we are almost the same age. I could go through my mom’s picture box and find the same clothes, hairstyles, you name it! I’m glad you’re continuing this heartwarming tradition. Your kids will always remember it!

  10. Pingback: Celebrating the Season with Christmas Fiction! | Bethany House Fiction

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