THE CHRISTMAS STORY ACCORDING TO GWYNNE

 

“Last year it was Ian’s turn to share some excerpts from his book, From Poverty to Poverty: A Scotsman Encounters Canada, about his “non-Christmases” as a child as well as a very special New Year’s Eve in Scotland when his prematurely-born daughter’s life was saved by a bottle of Scotch whisky.

This year it is Gayle’s turn to share some of her holiday writings. She has been super-busy these last months putting the final touches on our next-to-be-published book, Jake, Little Jimmy & Big Louie, plus rehearsing for the various musical groups she belongs to and then singing in their concerts or caroling at seniors’ or nursing homes and at Silver Star Mountain Village. Those duties are winding down now and so she has found time to offer her special holiday gift to readers, a play entitled “The Christmas Story According to Gwynne.”

This play originated in 1981 when Gayle, her late husband Gus and daughter Gwynne were living in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Gus was serving as a Lutheran pastor to a German parish and Gayle was enjoying her role as homemaker and mother. Their daughter Gwynne was a precocious four-year-old who kept her mother hopping. She talked almost non-stop in what her parents called “Gerglish,” a unique combination of German and English. Mama usually spoke English with her and Papa almost always spoke German with her; thus Gwynne understood both languages, spoke pretty good German but found it hard to express herself totally in English. She loved to have books read to her in either language and soaked up knowledge like a sponge. When the spontaneous play that follows began, Gayle realized that Gwynne had grasped the main aspects of the Christmas story but had added some unique twists to relate them to her own life and understanding. That evening, when Gayle related the story in great detail to Gus, he encouraged her to write it all down before the nuances of the story faded from her memory. She did so that very evening. To aid in the reader’s understanding, however, she “translated” everything into English. Other than that, however, the story is as exact to how it actually played out as Gayle’s memory could make it. The drawings we include with this story are Gwynne’s, drawn at her mother’s urging in the days following the play’s inception. We are also including a photo of Gwynne at age 4 dressed as St. Lucia, prepared to make the rounds of our apartment house to bring Saffronsbrod and Pepparkakor (Swedish treats) to our neighbours on the morning of St. Lucia Day, December 13th. That date is the start of the Swedish Christmas season and Gayle’s family heritage on her mother’s side is Swedish. (Yes, those are real lighted candles on the Lucia crown she is wearing! Because of that, Gwynne did this duty rather reluctantly.)

Gwynne as Lucia - age 4

Now, many years later, Gwynne lives in Norway, with her Norwegian husband, their three-year-old son and one-year-old daughter. She is employed as a teacher/librarian in a British International School, where they also celebrate St. Lucia Day. As an adult, Gwynne continues to nurture her unique imagination, teaches Sunday School, loves to play with and read to her children and has a house full of more books, toys and craft projects than one can imagine.

 

The Christmas Story According to Gwynne

By Gayle and Gwynne Johannesson, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Reprinted from a 1981 Johannesson Christmas letter and later from Esprit, the magazine of Evangelical Lutheran Women, November/December 1993 issue. Copyright © 1981 Gayle Johannesson; 2014 © Gayle Moore-Morrans.

 

Characters:

Gwynne (G) who also plays the Angel, Joseph, Pastor, and King Herod (in turn)

Mama (M) who also plays Mary, Joseph, Innkeeper (in turn)

Scene:

Gwynne, age 4, a budding actor, plays while Mama sews. Since early in Advent she has become fascinated with the Christmas story, has had it read and told to her, has seen it in pictures and manger scenes, has sung of it and heard it sung—at home, in church, in kindergarten, on television and at the Frankfurt Christmas Market. Now she wants to act it out—in her own unique way.

INTRODUCTION

G: Mama, let’s play “When Jesus was a Little Baby.” I’ll be the angel and you be Mary. (Exits the room in which Mama is sewing; re-enters, flapping arms.)

 

SCENE 1 – Mary’s garden, Nazareth

G: Fly, fly, fly. (pause) Hi, Mary!

Mary for Christmas Story

M: Hello! Who are you?

G: I’m the angel. I have good news for you. God sent me to tell you you’re going to have a baby in your tummy and he’s going to be the Messiah and save everyone from their sins. I think you better name him Jesus.

M: What wonderful news! You tell God I’m very happy to be chosen to be Jesus’ mother and I’m ready to do whatever God says.

G: Okay. ‘Bye now. Fly, fly, fly. (Exits, flapping arms.) (aside) Now you be Jofes. I’m still the angel.

 

SCENE 2 – Joseph’s home, Nazareth

Mr

G: (Enters, flapping arms.) Fly, fly, fly. Hey, Jofes, wake up! I’ve got good news for you. God is giving Mary a baby in her tummy and then you have to both go to Bethlehem to be counted. The baby’s name is Jesus and he’s going to be the Messiah and save you from your sins.

M:  That’s great! I’ll get ready to travel right away.

G: Bye. Fly, fly, fly. (Exits) (aside) Now you’re Mary and I’m Jofes.

 

SCENE 3 – Road to Bethlehem

G: Don’t worry Mary; we’re going to soon be in Bethlehem:

M: I hope so, Joseph. I’m very tired and I think the donkey is, too. Besides that, I think it’s soon time for the baby to be born.

G: Look, Mary; there’s Bethlehem: Let’s find a hotel room: (aside) Now you be the hotelman.

G: Knock, knock. Do you have room for us?

M: No, I’m sorry. We are all full.

G: All the hotels are full? Can’t you please find us some room?

M: Well, I have a stable in back where the animals stay. There’s an empty clean stall if you don’t mind sleeping on hay.

G: Well, is it quiet? We’re going to have a baby, you know; so it’s got to be quiet.

M: Oh, yes. There’s only one old cow and a sheep and two lambs and they don’t make much noise.

G: Good. Come on, Mary. Let’s go. (aside) Now you’re Mary again.

 

SCENE 4 – Bethlehem stable

G: I’ll fix up a bed for us in the hay. (pause) Oh, oh. We’ve got a problem.

M: What’s wrong?

G: There’s no phone.

Mama: Now Gwynne. Don’t you remember, when Jesus lived on earth it was many years ago and they didn’t have telephones. Anyway, why do you need a telephone?

Gwynne: Well, for heaven’s sake, Mama, we’ve got to call a pastor. I just remembered Jofes and Mary didn’t get married. They’re going to have a baby soon so they better get married!

Mama: Can’t you get a pastor in Bethlehem?

Gwynne: Nope. He’s far away. Well, if there isn’t any phone then we can’t play. (pause) I know—the angel can get a phone. (Exits and enters again, flapping arms.)

M: Oh, Mr. Angel, can you get us a phone so we can call a pastor to marry us before our baby is born?

G: Sure. (Exits and re-enters with phone.) Now I’m Jofes.

G: Ring, ring, ring. Hello, Pastor Johannesson? Can you come and marry us? We’re going to have a baby soon. You can find us easy, just follow the star and when it stops we’re in the red house.

Pastor J for Christmas Story

(Angel flies out, removing telephone. Re-enters as pastor, performs ceremony while M. plays Mary and Joseph in turn. G. exits and re-enters as Joseph. Fixes up a bed for Mary in the hay, settles donkey (hee-haws), talks to cow (moos) and sheep (baas). G. exits and re-enters with doll in cradle.)

 

SCENE 5 – Next morning, Bethlehem

G: Mary, wake up. Look at the nice manger I made for the baby you had in your tummy. Let’s name him Jesus. You wrap him up and I’ll put him in bed.

M: There, he’s sleeping now. Say, do you hear voices outside? It sounds like shepherds talking and they say an angel choir told them to come to see our baby.

G: Yes, and listen to the song they’re singing.

G&M: (singing) Glo-o-o-o-o, o-o-o-o-o, o-o-o-o-oria! Glory to God in the highest!

manger scene for Christmas story

G: Come on in. (Extends hand to imaginary shepherds.) You can see the baby, but be quiet—cuz he’s sleeping. (Gently strokes the doll’s cheek.)  Isn’t he cute? He’s the Messiah and is going to save you from your sins.

Gwynne: Oh no, no, no! (Runs from room, prances around in hallway.) Get that baby out of here! I don’t want a boy baby; I want a girl baby!

Mama: What’s wrong now? Don’t you want to play anymore?

King Herod for Christmas Story

Gwynne: Oh, Mama, can’t you see? I’m the wicked king. I’m going to throw all the babies in the river. (Exits, re-enters flapping arms.)

G: You’re going to have to get out of here and go to Egypt for a while. It’s a long trip so you better pack lots of things. You can have picnics on the way. I’ll tell you when the wicked king is dead so you can come back. Don’t worry; God will take care of you and I’ll get things ready. (Exits, flapping arms.)

 

SCENE  6 – Somewhere in Egypt

(G: enters pulling a wagon loaded with dishes, doll clothes, tablecloth, cookies, bananas and a pillow.)

G: Now we’re in the camper. (Spreads tablecloth on floor, sets out dishes and food. Sits down with doll on lap.) You’re getting to be a big boy, Jesus. Here, have a cookie. (Turns to Mary) Isn’t it fun to be camping?

M: Yes, it’s nice here; but I’ll be glad when we can go home to Nazareth.

G: Oh, don’t worry. The old wicked king should be dead soon. Hey, I think I hear the angel. (Exits, re-enters flapping arms.)

G: Fly, fly, fly. That wicked king is dead, so you can come back. Your baby’s safe now. (pause) Say, Jesus sure is a big boy now. That’s a long trip and he’ll be too heavy to carry. I know; I’ll help you. You two take the donkey back and Jesus can fly with me. (Exits, flapping one arm and carrying doll under the other.)

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

12 thoughts on “THE CHRISTMAS STORY ACCORDING TO GWYNNE

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