Yes, my father was Mary in the nativity scene

Published: Monday, Dec. 12 2011 5:00 a.m. MST

Oscar Isaac as Joseph and Keish Castle-Hughes as Mary in Oscar Isaac as Joseph and Keish Castle-Hughes as Mary in "The Nativity Story." Kurt Manwaring's father once played Mary in a local nativity as the girls were afraid to ride the donkey. (Jaimie Trueblood)

Editor's note: This week Mormon Times readers share one of their most enduring Christmas memories.

The Pocatello Idaho Stake high priests group was having a hard time finding a young woman to portray Mary in their re-creation of the Nativity. The girls were all afraid to ride the donkey. But just as it seemed the presentation would have to go forward without one of its key figures, a volunteer stepped forward.

To this day, very few people know the young girl on the donkey that night wasn’t actually a girl — it was my father (back when he was 12). The story never ceases to find its way into our Christmas traditions.

My most enduring Christmas memory took place when I was about the same age as my father when he volunteered to be Mary. That year, we somehow mingled all of our various Christmas Eve traditions into the same magical evening.

We started out at my grandparents’ home. My family was there along with several of my cousins. We each got a plate of goodies and made our way into the living room where we watched slides of our parents when they were younger.

As a 12-year-old boy, I thought it was boring. But somehow, those things we consider boring in our youth turn out to be some of our most precious memories in our adulthood. What was boring then is a treasure to me now.

When Grandpa finished the slide presentation, we each got to open one Christmas present. Each year the gift was the same — a flashlight. And yet each year, we’d invariably be surprised and rush to the basement to play hide and seek in the dark.

When our parents finally had enough of the noise, we bundled into our cars and drove throughout the city looking at the Christmas lights. Finally, we ended up at the scene of the nativity, waiting for Joseph to come walking up the hill with Mary beside him on the donkey.

And like so many years before, we convinced Dad to tell us the story again.

It was a wonderful evening, full of traditions that to this day hold a special place in my heart.

Kurt Manwaring is pursuing a graduate degree in public administration at the University of Utah. He is a consultant with Manwaring Consulting LLC and maintains a personal blog at www.kurtsperspective.blogspot.com.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company