Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Role of a Lifetime

We returned home from our not-so-southern getaway (more on this later this week) to find a very interesting proposal awaiting us. My mother-in-law's church has requested that our daughter Charlie play a role in their Christmas nativity play. Oh, and it's not just any role. They have asked that she take the headlining gig as the one and only, our Lord and Saviour, baby Jesus. This is fascinating in a number of ways. Firstly, we are not a member of the church, or any church for that matter. Charlie has never been to this house of worship nor, do I believe, has she met any of the individuals organizing the play. As far as I can recall we have not sent them any of her headshots. I'm just kidding, we didn't have promotional headshots taken. We're not crazy people. There appears to be a possibility that she has been selected purely due to some good "word of mouth". I can believe that but obviously I'm somewhat biased, as regular readers could attest to. Perhaps a celestial message was sent to the play's directors that a particularly messianic baby was born to a family in Greektown. It's a pretty good size church so presumably some of the parishioners have given birth recently. It's not a Catholic Church so I can't say that with complete certainty. Assuming that at least a handful of the actual churchgoers have introduced potential thespians in the past year they must be devastated that the most prized role is being offered to an outsider. Imagine being told that your kid wasn't Jesus-y enough. That would be crushing. Maybe the whole congregation will be up in arms over the perceived outsourcing of Baby Jesus. Do we want to send our helpless daughter into the midst of this potential controversy? The mix of religion, offshoring of labour, jilted parents and child actors seems like a particularly incendiary one.

The other issue to consider is the aforementioned fact that we aren't members of any church. Both my wife and I were brought up in loosely religious Waspy homes with her church attendance record being slightly better than mine. Mine could be accurately classified as non-existent. I'm not anti-church I just haven't chosen one yet. I've also been hesitant to give up my Sunday mornings. Given that I haven't adopted a faith would I be in violation of some unwritten rule by allowing my daughter to assume the role of the Son of God in a play commemorating his birth? If she was asked to play a camel, some Myrrh or anything a little less significant I wouldn't be too concerned, but depicting Baby JC seems to me like a fairly meaningful commitment. If I'm to allow her to join the ranks of Willem Dafoe and Jim Caviezel am I implicitly signing her up for something? Will the play be rudely interrupted by one of the jilted parents of one of the less Jesus-y babies angrily declaring "That Baby Jesus wasn't even baptized!". Would we be chased from the church by angry townsfolk with torches and pitchforks? I hardly think turning one's daughter into the Salmon Rushdie of North Toronto constitutes sound parenting. What happens if word of her blasphemous portrayal spreads? I guess that trip to Jacksonville would end up being her first, and her last, to the southern United States.

On top of these quandaries we have the issues of gender confusion, the potential pitfalls of child acting and the additional responsibilities in an already crowded December. Everything seems to be pointing towards us declining the offer, plus she's not 100% sold on the script. Why then, am I considering it? What is it that is so intriguing to me about having my daughter play a role in a kids' play? I can safely say I have no desire to live vicariously through her given my own successful stint on the stage (Chippendale's alumni 1994-1997, don't act like you don't recognize me) so there must be something about what this role may do for her, or for us, that speaks to me. Maybe we should give religion a shot. Professional sports sure aren't working as my altar of worship so an actual altar of worship may be worth trying. If nothing else it will give us a holiday experience that doesn't involve rampant commercialism or over-the-top political correctness. You know what? I may have just talked myself into doing this. Watch out everyone, here comes the best Baby Jesus the world has ever seen!

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