As children, Lindy and I attended church at the Cleveland Avenue Methodist Church. We were just about the only kids who showed up every week with no adults. We enjoyed the Sunday School and often stayed for the church service. One Sunday it was announced that there would be a Christmas pageant on a special Sunday night in December.
Now Lindy and I had attended other churches and we knew that children with no parents attending church with them had absolutely no chance of getting one of the good parts. We both knew we would be in the angel choir like we had been in all of the other church programs.
Two days before the pageant, one of the main characters fell ill, and I received a phone call asking me to fill in. They wanted me to be the Virgin Mary! They even wanted me to bring one of my baby dolls from home to portray the baby Jesus!
I was thrilled and I must have made a huge deal of it—sounding like I was debuting on Broadway, I guess, because both my mother and father made plans to attend. It was exciting to look out in the audience and see both of my parents smiling encouragingly at me while I uttered my one line:
Be of good cheer.
That was one of the very best Christmas memories. Walking slowly down the center aisle to the altar of the church, looking in the angel choir and seeing my little sister, and looking in the audience and seeing my mother and dad. I finally felt like I belonged at the Cleveland Avenue Methodist Church.