Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Christmas Eve

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Many Christmas Eves ago, in fact, more than I care to admit I, along with my friend Susie, was chosen to play a duet for the Christmas Eve Pageant at our church. I was only seven, and so was she. We were the youngest choir members ever chosen to play the xylophone duet of “Silent Night” to end  the yearly candlight service. 

At dress rehearsal, the choir director handed out Angel wings and white robes as well as all of the other costumes to the participants.  Susie and I received angel wings,  but no robes.  We looked at each other until Susie summoned the courage to ask for our robes.  Mrs. Berry in her usual brusque manner said that there weren’t enough robes to go around, and we could wear white dresses with the wings. It would be okay because we were separate from the rest of the choir of angels.  Susie had a white dress, so she quickly said okay and walked out the door.

I wasn’t so lucky.  That year had been an incredibly hard year for the Shearer family. My dad had only had three days a week of work that fall, and there was talk of a strike if something didn’t come together soon.  Farming was never a great money maker on a small farm like we had, so I had no idea where I would find the money for the fabric to make a white dress in two days or if my grandmother could even make it in that time frame.  As it turned out, I didn’t have a chance.  My grandmother had made me a beautiful pale peach dress for Easter that year, and she and my mother decided that if she embellished the angel’s wings, I would look just beautiful as an angel.  My words of protest meant nothing to the two women because they thought they had solved the problem.  They didn’t know Mrs. Berry the way I knew Mrs. Berry.  She was a great choir director, but when she said something she meant for you to follow the instructions.

Chrismas Eve I trudged my way to church dressed in my peach dress embellished with enhanced angel wings and a xylophone under my arm sure that Mrs. Berry would go ballistic at what my grandmother had done to the angel’s wings.  We never got that far. Instead, the peach dress was entirely unacceptable attire for an angelic choir.  She told me in no uncertain terms that angels wear white, and what in the world was I doing in a peach dress.  My question to her was “How do you know angels wear only white?”  She asked me in a very firm tone “What did you say, Miss Shearer?”  I repeated the question giving her enough time for her to think of a rejoinder.  With her usual way with words, she simply said that they just did.  I said,  “Are you sure because I’m not so sure.  I believe that not all of God’s children are white so why should all of his angels wear white?  Her eyes widened, she sputtered, she hemmed and she hawed and shouted “Places everyone.  You too Miss Shearer but try to stay out of the spotlight.  Let Susie take the lead, and you play the  second  part. 

I was happy I was still playing the duet, but Susie would have none of it.  She said that it was me who knew our cues, not her. All she did was follow me.  I had to remain the lead.  I was sure that I would never sing another note in the choir but we certainly didn’t have time to argue.  So, the finale went on as practiced, and we received great applause.  After the pageant, there was a small reception in the church hall and Susie and I received a lot of praise and good wishes for our performance.  I thought that I should make peace with Mrs. Berry since it was Christmas Eve.  So I went up to her and asked her if I could speak to her for a few minutes.  I apoligized for being cheeky, but my parents just didn’t have the money to buy me a white dress and I so wanted to play in the pageant that I didn’t have the nerve to call her and tell her that I couldn’t be an angel because I had nothing white to wear.

Just then, my Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Dye arrived on the scene hearing my words about angels wearing white.  I will never forget her words that night because this is what she said to me ” Why, honey, whoever told you that angels only wear white.  They wear every color of the rainbow and even colors that we humans can’t even imagine.  Don’t ever limit yourself by thinking that things are always black and white.  How dull ife would be!  Angels wear only white, indeed!  After she walked away, Mrs. Berry looked down at me, smiled and said,  I think next year we will have angels wearing all the colors of the rainbow, what do you think?

What do I think? I know that God’s angels wear more than white and I know that they walk among us and come to us when they are most needed.  Mrs. Dye was my angel that night.  Fifty years later,  I still believe that angels are there for us when we most need them.  And if we followed those prophetic words they sang Peace on Earth Goodwill toward Men what a better place this world would be.

Merry Christmas!   

Written by Gloria Ferris

December 24th, 2006 at 10:08 pm

Posted in Cleveland

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    al lewis

    14 Jun 07 at 11:31 AM

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