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It had to be this book because today is the day sandwiched between the Key Stage 1 Christmas production I saw yesterday and the Key Stage 2 one I’ll see tomorrow.

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If you’ve watched your child (or grandchild etc) in a nativity, or will do for the first time, then this is a must. First out in 1985 it is a true Christmas classic.

The book takes you through the whole experience of a nativity, from practising lines and creating costumes to the performance itself. Schools have moved on these days – you don’t always get a traditional nativity. If you do, supermarkets now sell costumes for them. So your kid is just as likely to be dressed as an alien, or will be sporting a professional looking robe instead of the dressing gown/tea towel on the head combination I remember from my own childhood and shown in the book.

But children remain the same and the brilliant observations made in this book still ring true – adult readers will nod their heads in recognition at the many similar experiences they have had. The little girl’s attempts to accessorise her angel costume with a wand, another child rushing their lines, the wise men not being able to get into the Hall because the fire doors are shut. And the funniest moment of all – when one of the shepherds looks into the audience and calls out ‘Hello Dad’ (my two howl with laughter at this because someone always does this).

In the performance I saw yesterday there were, just for a change, some nativity elements in it. The angel nearly tripped over as she went on stage carrying a star and the beatific looking Virgin Mary whipped out a baby doll from under her seat, giving a brilliant representation of an easy birth. The Reception teacher, Mr Spicer, was also dressed as a giant turkey, but that’s the kind of thing he does – the year before Toby started school he’d dressed up as one of the maids a milking (looking fetching with his Viking length blonde hair and beard).

On nativity performance days you get to take the kids home early and the first thing we did when we got back was read The Nativity Play. Then we watched DVDs of the plays from previous years. Professionally filmed of course. Schools really have moved on. But there will always be a kid waving at their parent.

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