Sister Janet scurries around the church office looking for notepaper, box, and pen. She takes a sheet of paper out of the printer tray and cuts it into ten squares. She sits at the secretary’s desk and prints each role on one of the ten squares. Mary, Joseph, donkey, sheep, cow, Angel 1, Angel 2, Wiseman 1, Wiseman 2, and Wiseman 3. Satisfied she all the roles, she folds each square in half. The secretary has a bowl half filled with red and white peppermint candies. Sister Janet empties it on the desk and puts the ten folded white squares in the bowl.
Sister Janet walks into the gymnasium. She holds the bowl up to the children, “I’ve put the ten roles in here. Mary, you can draw the names out.”
Vinnie raises his hand, “Sister. Sister. Sister.”
“What is it, Vincent?” says Sister Janet.
“How come you always choose girls to do the cool part? That’s not fair. I thought you were going to get a box. How come you have bowl instead of a box? Is that the bowl that holds the peppermint candy on Mrs. O’Reilly’s desk? She’s going to be mad if you dumped out her candy.”
Sister Janet prays silently, ‘Dear God, don’t let Vincent get the sheep role. Last year he kept oinking as if he were a pig instead of a sheep.’ Sister Janet clears her mind and says, “Vincent, Mary will draw out the names fair and square. Come up here, Mary.”
Mary Avery turns toward Vinnie and sticks her tongue out.
“Sister. Mary stuck her tongue out at me. I’m telling Santa,” hollers Vinnie.
Mary turns back toward Sister Janet and says, “No I didn’t. Sister. Vinnie is always making up mean stuff about me. Tell him not to tell Santa anything mean about me.”
Sister Janet says, “That’s enough. I’m sure Vincent will do the right thing because he knows God is watching him.”
“God loves me no matter what I do. That’s what you said in Sunday School, Sister. That’s true, right?” says Vinnie.
“Yes, God loves you no matter what you do, Vincent. But you are trying my patience. We only have an hour to practice and we’ve already wasted twenty minutes. When Mary draws a role, it will be played by the first person on the left. The first role will be Thomas’s.”
“Yes, Mary?” says Sister Janet.
“Can I choose the role I want because I’m the nicest one here today?”
“You are very nice, Mary, but the other children are nice too. You can have the first role you draw,” says Sister Janet.
“Sister, I thought that was my role,” says Thomas.
Sister Janet closes her eyes for a moment and prays, “Thank you God for calling me to be a nun. I couldn’t handle being a mother and having to put up with this stuff 24/7.”
“Thomas, you’ll get the next role,” says Sister Janet.
“See what I mean, Tommy? The girls all stick together. We don’t have a chance,” says Vinnie.
“Vincent!” says Sister Janet in a stern voice.
Vinnie makes a pretend motion of zipping his lips with the forefinger and thumb of his right hand.
Mary smiles at the role she pulls out of the bowl. “I get to play Mary. That’s the most important role.”
“No, it’s not, baby Jesus is the most important role,” calls Vinnie.
“But Mary is Jesus’ mother. That makes her the star,” retorts Mary.
“Enough, All the roles are important,” says Sister Janet. “Pull out the remaining roles, Mary.
“Okay, Sister. I hope Vinnie doesn’t get to play Joseph, because I couldn’t stand being married to him. If I pull out Vinnie’s name, can I put it back in and pull out another name?”
“Dear Lord, the cross you’ve given to me today is almost unbearable,” mumbles Sister Janet.
“I didn’t hear you, Sister,” says Vinnie.
“Pull out the roles, Mary,” says Sister Janet.
Mary reads the roles as she pulls out each slip of paper, “Sara plays Joseph, Mary’s husband and foster father of Jesus. Eileen plays one of the wisemen. Vinnie plays the donkey lying at the feet of the manger. Larry plays the sheep and Tommy plays the cow. Joey plays angel 1. Alice plays Angel 2. Lori is a wiseman and Nicole is a wiseman.”
Vinnie raises his hand, “Sister, Sister.”
“You’ll make a very nice donkey, Vincent. Can you hold your question, we only have fifteen minutes to show everyone where they stand?”
“It’s important, Sister,” says Vinnie.
“What is it, Vincent,” says Sister Janet hoping Vinnie is going to ask he can go to restroom.
“It’s not going to work. Everyone is going to laugh at us,” says Vinnie.
“No one is going to laugh at us, Vincent,” says Sister Janet.
“Yes they will, Sister. You can’t have a girl playing Joseph because Joseph was a man. And, it says wisemen, not wise women. So you can’t have girls playing the wisemen. Tommy and Larry nod their heads in agreement.
Sister Janet issues a silent prayer, “Dear Lord, forgive me. I have a strong desire to pick Vincent up and toss him through one of the basketball hoops.”