by Anna Willoughby, MPCS preschool teacher
During the Christmas season of 1987, while our mothers co-taught preschool across the hall, my cousin and best friend, Amanda Tilley Varner, and I were first graders at Mount Paran Christian School, then located on Allgood Road. As a Christmas gift to our parents that year, our teachers dressed us in nativity costumes crafted from bed sheets and tissue paper. We were two cousins, one brown-headed little angel and one blonde-haired Mary, proud to smile for a picture that, to this day, decorates our mothers’ homes at Christmas time.
Thirty years later, Amanda and I both found our way back to MPCS, this time as parents and as teachers - she in the middle school, I in the preschool. During the summer of 2017, I found myself contemplating a way to bring my fond memories of the preschool nativity back to life. My then preschool teammate, Lindsay Larkin Simpson, and I created a plan to revive the bed-sheet nativity. That Christmas, the MPCS live nativity was born. I bought a few pillowcases and turned them into costumes, and, that year, our two classes of PK4 students - which happened to include Amanda's son, Brandt David, as our Joseph - sang Christmas carols in the hallway for their fellow students. In the ensuing years, we've added more students, more costumes, a few stitched repairs, a stable and manger hand-built by my dad, a little practice, and a whole lot of love to this annual Christmas event.
And, now, many years later, in a full-circle moment, Amanda and I found ourselves this Christmas season watching the new little Mary and angel, who just so happened to also be cousins and best friends, one with brown hair (B. Madani) and one with blonde (A. Ernst) as they proudly sang songs about the birth of Jesus during the sixth annual live nativity.
As the years continue at Mount Paran Christian School, so has the legacy of this live nativity. Each year, as the precious tiny voices proclaim the Good News, I pray it serves as a reminder of the blessings that surround us, the family who loves us, and the eternal gift of our precious Savior.