Gather round, my children, while I tell you a heartwarming Christmas tale of sibling rivalry and threats of violence.

This year my two oldest sons, aged six and four, were assigned roles in our church's Christmas play. Nicholas, who is obsessed with all things farm-related, was enormously proud to be chosen as a shepherd -- or as he put it, a "sheep farmer". Simon, on the other hand, was asked to play the boy Jesus (in the scene with the Wise Men), and was less than enthusiastic about having to be on stage at all.

However, Simon did eventually warm to his role, since I heard this exchange on the morning of the pageant:

SIMON: I'm Jesus! I have all the power!

NICHOLAS: No, sheep farmers are more powerful!

SIMON: But Jesus can do anything, so I'm more powerful than a sheep farmer!

NICHOLAS: Well, I'm going to say, "Hey there, Miracle Boy," and come over and kick you in the butt!

ME: *chokes and sporfles*

SIMON: Then I'm going to send you to the Lake of Fire!

ME: *shoots Rice Krispies out her nose*

My only consolation is that at no point during the play were Nicholas and Simon on stage at the same time, so neither the threat of bodily harm nor that of everlasting punishment could be carried out in front of the entire church audience. However, Simon did manage to look entirely bored, complete with mouth-covering yawns, when the Wise Men were presenting their gifts. "Oh, myrrh, is it? And some of that... uh, frankincense stuff? How droll. Mother, how about you just toss it over in the corner with the gold."

I can only imagine how much more interesting things will become when our youngest, Paul, gets added to the mix.

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