Nativity Nightmares!by Michael Johnson-Ellis
Having a four-year-old certainly comes with its challenges now and again, but it also brings with it equal amounts of pride, and ‘firsts’ obviously. This year, Talulah stars in her first and last Nativity as this particular school setting. She’s in ‘School Room’ (where the big kids hang out and leave at 4 yrs old). She has a part in this year’s performance, and when the email dropped in our inbox, it informed us Talulah was The Angel Gabriel. Proud Dads moment – I think I actually screamed a little and may have had a little something in my eyes too.
The email announced each child would all have a line to say, which we need to rehearse. I was literally hopping around the lounge, having gone to a performing arts school my thespian roots were tingling. I can see it now, spotlight centre stage, dry ice dances around the cast and their tiny feet, Talulah enters stage left, wearing a flowing white organza gown, silk ballet pumps with feather wings protecting her gold harp, her hair softly curled hair and blowing gently by the fan, held by me - obvs. Then the realisation hit me, I had a week to find a costume, or worse – make a costume. Where should I start? I obviously knew who Angel Gabe was, but is there a rule to providing costumes, and worst still – am I being judged on my haberdashery?
I wrote a post on our TwoDadsUK Instagram stories and asked for suggestions of where to buy, or what to make. The suggestions, which were all helpful and got my creative juices flowing. I could do this. Could I make an angelic costume, complete with wings and a Halo? Or do I just save myself the embarrassment and buy something which she can keep in her dress-up box, that would double up as something else – sustainability is key here, at worse her little cousin will be able to use in too in a couple of years!
Some of the suggestions below are actually from a collection of our followers;
‘…get an old shirt, tinsel around the waist, then get some cardboard wings held with a coat hanger’ – Lovely suggestion, but this screams Angel – not THE angel. Next…
‘pop a pillowcase over her head, cut a head hole, cut out armholes, face paint her face white (!) and give her a wand!’ – erm – no thanks Karen – this sounds terrifying. Next…
‘an eye patch, black glasses and a black hat!’ Eh? I checked the back to my original post, I’d misspelt Angel Gabriel – and foolishly wrote Angel Gabrielle, as in ‘ Dreams can come true… Doh. NEXT!
‘…get a bedsheet and cut a head hole out of it and spray it in glitter and glue stars on it from a craft store or sew sequins all over it’ I’m breaking into a cold sweat just reading these…NEXT!
‘The supermarkets have some great costumes, check out Sainsbury's and Asda’ – Seems reasonable, they’ve always served us well at World Book Day, I’ll give this a whirl
‘get yourself on Amazon, prime an outfit – done!’ This one, I can do…
So, I got in the car and paid a visit to three local supermarkets. The first was Tesco, normally stacked with ‘dress-up’ costumes, however at our local, large store – there were none. So off I drove to Sainsbury’s, an impressive Nativity range of 17 costumes, all priced around the £8-£12 mark, they even had a cute angel costume too, sadly not in Talulah’s size.
Off I went back in the car and drove to our local Matalan – another suggestion from a follower opting for a bought, and not crafted outfit. Again, a similar number of outfits available, however, more dress up than nativity. There was an angel costume priced at £12-£14 – but again, not in her size. Would they have an issue if she styled it out as Captain America? Off I went, back in the car! Dashing Supermarket to Supermarket replaying my own nativity plot, just as Mary and Joseph knocked on the doors of the Inn Keepers, I was begging and pleading with Staff, but not to rest my weary head and give birth, to check if they had size aged 4-5 out the back! There was no room at the Inn.
I unlocked my phone, opened Amazon and searched ‘Kids angel Gabriel costume’. Searched the options – all ‘sold out’, or have delivery dates after the filming of her nativity (due to COVID parents weren’t seeing the show live).
I opened Instagram to appeal to our followers in a story, and at that moment a message popped into our DM’s, with links to outfits, some of which I’d tried and one I hadn’t.
Was Party Delights my guiding star? Several followers had suggested I try them. I’d never heard of the site previously, but I logged on to their website and began my search. With a Nativity section and over 30 costume choices, this immediately felt right. All priced around a tenner, and they even had feathered wings and a gold harp! My vision was becoming a reality! Within a few clicks I’d spent £15 and the outfit was scheduled to be with me with 3-5 days. You can pay an extra £5 if you’re pushing it for time.
Today the outfit arrived. A quick iron on a very low heat, and it's looking great. I’m pleased we bought the extra wings as the gold ones with it weren’t the best, but It’s now unpacked and ready for Miss Johnson-Ellis to showcase it.
What did I learn here? Firstly I’m no ‘sewing bee’ champion, I can barely get a button on the right way let alone hem a skirt, sew in shoulder pads and craft batwing arms. Crafting isn’t my forte either, nor do I want it to be. That’s what she loves doing at Nursery, and I don’t think I should blur the lines. I’m not very patient with all that glue and glitter. Thirdly, there’s clearly shitloads of aged 4-5 angels knocking around Worcestershire all spreading news of a new baby, so watch out! Finally, planning was definitely key here, most costumes were sold out by the time I checked, so don’t be like me!
However, as parents, we unknowingly sometimes put so much unnecessary pressure on us to perform, as if we’re the one's centre stage and camera ready. This is not real life, learn, make mistakes, and so what if she did wear a pillowcase with makeshift armholes, complete with flammable tinsel trimmings? She’d look adorable and she’d rock it. So what if you bought a Party Delights or Matalan special? It doesn’t mean you’re lazy, or hopeless or extravagant. You do you, I do me, Simple.
It’s her first, and her last Nativity at this Nursery setting before she starts ‘Reception’ in September, where has the time gone? Whatever she wore, whatever we made, she’d love it, and she’d own it in her own special way.
‘I have some news, a new baby has been born’ – proudly projected, complete with the largest smile, and a twinkle in her eyes, followed by a wink, she loves to wink!
Merry Christmas everyone, from mine – to yours x