After swimming, we children dried off and changed. “What should we do now?” Della asked.
“Let’s do a play!” I proposed.
“Yes!” Della cheered.
“But what play will we do?” James asked.
“Oh, I’m not sure,” I said. “Let’s decide upstairs.” We all walked up the staircase and entered the theater room.
“Let’s do a Bible story,” James suggested, as we stood on the stage.
“But what Bible story?” I mused.
“The Exodus!” James yelled, his bright blue eyes showing his excitement.
“We do not have enough guys. Who would be Aaron or Moses?” I countered.
“How about the birth of Jesus!” Della happily suggested.
“That might work,” I said. Then I turned to James. “You and I could be Joseph and Mary!”
“Who would I be?” Della asked.
“You could be an innkeeper’s wife or something,” James said. “This will be great!”
We hurried into the backstage room to see what props we would use. We found an old toy hobble horse to use as our donkey and old baskets to use as mangers.
“What should we use for costumes?” Della asked.
“I am sure Gigi has some costumes we could use,” I answered.
“Where?” James asked.
“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “Let’s just keep on gathering our props.”
It was then that Della found something. “What does this door lead to?” she asked as she slowly turned the knob. A flip of the light switch revealed a large walk-in closet filled with various costumes! Della and I happily looked at all the beautiful gowns and dresses. There were fancy suits and hats and even costumes to depict poor people. There was so much too look at!
James, however, was not interested in the costumes. He grabbed some simple robes and told us girls to come help him with the props. It took some convincing, but finally we followed him out.
We had just gathered all of our props and were about to change into our costumes when we heard Mama call up the stairs, “Lunchtime!” We charged down the stairs with a clatter and a clang and crashed into our seats. Gigi looked at us with a surprised expression and we smiled shyly back. “You children sure do know how to make a racket!” Mama laughed as she entered behind us. Grandpa and Daddy sat down and Gigi, who had gone to the kitchen, returned with the food. There was sandwiches, vegetables, potato salad, and my favorite fruit, watermelon! As we hungrily devoured our meal, I looked up at Grandpa and asked, “Grandpa, why do you have a stage in your house?”
“Maybe you should ask Gigi,” he answered, smiling.
“Why, Gigi?” I asked, my curiosity growing.
“Because I was quite an actor when I was younger. It was my passion,” Gigi replied. “I used to give some children acting lessons, but I gave that up awhile ago.”
“Well, we are preparing a play upstairs!” Della cheered. “We’ll let you know when we’re ready.”
“Oh, that shall be nice!” Gigi said, smiling.
As soon as we had eaten all of our food, we hurried up the stairs and put on our costumes. When we had all learned our lines, we hid behind the curtain. Della ran down to tell everyone that the play was about to begin. Soon we heard footsteps on the stairs. We were all so excited! Once everyone was seated, James opened the curtain. I stepped out and stood on the stage, my memories of last night going through my head. Now I really was in the middle of a show! Then James came out. He was dressed in a white robe and was playing the angel Gabriel. He said all of his lines about me having a baby and I said my lines, then he and I went backstage.
Then James and I came riding out on our “donkey.” I had put pillows under my robe so that it looked as though I was pregnant. We rode over to where Della was standing, sweeping the floor. “Ma’am,” James said. “Do you have room in your inn?”
“No, I do not,” said Della sharply, and turned back to her sweeping. Then we rode across the stage again. I started pretending I was in pain. “Joseph,” I said to James. “I am having the baby!” Della came out at the other side of the stage and pretended she was another innkeeper. “No, I have no room,” she told us. Finally, we (Mary and Joseph) were allowed to sleep in a stable. Then baby Jesus, who happened to be a baby doll, was born. The audience laughed when they saw the baby doll, and it was all I could do to keep from laughing with them.
I threw a white robe over my other robe and pretended to be an angel appearing to James and Della, the shepherd and shepherdess. I pulled the white robe back off and was Mary again, holding baby Jesus. The shepherds came and visited me and ran away shouting the good news. Then I faced the crowd and said, “The End.” Everyone cheered and congratulated us.
“Great job!” Gigi said. “Especially since it is your first play.”
“You’ll have to do another one for us some other day,” Grandpa suggested. James, Della, and I were all so happy. Our first play had been a success!
The days at Gigi and Grandpa’s passed cheerfully, full of laughter and fun. We swam almost every morning, played outside among all of Gigi’s beautiful flowers in the afternoon, and played games in the evening. We ran through every corner of the house, laughed until our bellies hurt, and put on two more plays. I am not exactly sure why, but I was surprised one evening when Mama turned to us and said, “Remember children, we leave for home in the morning.”
“We are leaving?” I muttered.
“Why yes,” Mama said. “Did you think we would stay here forever?”
“I guess I did,” I admitted, trying in vain to put a smile on my face.
“Don’t worry, kids,” Mama said. “I am sure we will get to visit again before too long.”
Mama’s words comforted me a little, but still I felt weird. I had no idea why I felt that way.
Later that night I saw Mama out on the screen porch with Gigi. Gigi’s phone rang and she walked away to talk. I crept out and sat by Mama.
“Hi, Maddie. What’s up?” she asked.
“I just,” I said slowly, then my true feelings came out in a rush. “Mama, I’ve had so much fun here and I don’t want to leave. I don’t want this time to end because I know it will be a few months at least until we come back. Mama, will I have this much fun again? Won’t normal life seem boring after this?”
Mama looked at me with a mysterious smile and said, “Maddie, don’t worry. Normal life will not feel boring after this and I assure you, you will have many times just as fun if not even more fun than this. I know that you don’t want to leave here, but don’t you know that almost all the fun things you did here you can do back home? Here isn’t the only place you can have fun. We all need to learn to make the best of any situation, to have God’s love and joy no matter where we are.”
“I guess you are right that we can do the fun things we did here at home!” I said, excitement rising up within me.
“Yes, you can do fun things at home,” Mama said. “And you know Maddie, where an adventure ends, another adventure begins.”
I smiled and hugged Mama. “Thank you,” I said.
“Oh, sure, Maddie,” she replied. “Now go and enjoy your last night here!” I ran away and did just that.