I can respect that it's not like this everywhere, but at our little church, the children's Christmas pageant is not meant to be a professional affair. We have the cantata in which the choir sings, and they do an amazing job. Then, at a totally separate service (this year the week after the cantata), we have the children's nativity. This year Jordan got a call from Pegie, our pastor's wife, asking if Suzi (our two-year-old) would be Mary and if Jordan would be Joseph. Pegie is one of Suzi's Sunday School teachers and when she asked Suzi what part she wanted to play, Suzi told her she wanted to be Mary and her daddy to be Joseph.
Pegie thought it would be a good idea to make this a parent-child nativity, which was smart because the only way Suzi ever would've walked down the aisle all costumed and in front of everyone like that is with her dad. I threw together a quick costume for her: simple long dress we already had, blue piece of fabric for her head, baby doll wrapped in a neutral piece of fabric. Jordan already had a costume because we were Mary and Joseph and Suzi was Jesus this time two years ago.
We didn't know exactly what would happen, but we were pretty sure it would be a mess. Luckily, that is what most everyone expects when you have a two-year-old in a Christmas pageant. We were happy, once the moment came, that she consented to be in it at all. We didn't want Mary to take off running up the aisle and jump into Grandma's lap, leaving Joseph sitting uncomfortably in the micro-stable. In the end, though, it went okay. Suzi had to be carried, refused to wear anything on her head, and unswaddled the Baby Jesus, but everyone enjoyed it and Suzi is so happy and proud that she got to be Mary. I made a little Holy Family out of clay for a Christmas gift and when Suzi saw it she smiled and said "that's me when I was Mary!" I think one of the best ways to get a child to understand something is to have them act it out. It's important to me that Suzi understand the Christmas story, so I'm glad she did it. It was meaningful, even if at the end of the service one of our friends was jokingly singing "away in a manger, no crib for His bed, the little Lord Jesus had a cup on his head." (Watch the video and you'll see what I mean.)
Here's the video I managed to get before my Flip camera died...