In school halls across the country the same scene will be played out this week.
Children with shy smiles and excited expressions will shuffle on to stage, clad in tea towels and old sheets.
They’ll look anxiously out into the packed halls to see where mummy, daddy, granny and grandpa are sitting.
Maybe they’ll give a little wave from behind the manger.
Yes, it’s the highlight of the year the Nativity play. Tender, innocent, guaranteed to bring a tear to even a non-believer’s eye.
But spare a thought for the teachers organising this event. The Oscars with a handful of sensitive prima donnas might be easier.
Because parents can be pushy and playground politics can be cruel. Every proud mum and dad wants their child to shine and the competition is fierce.
I read last week about one school teacher who was offered bribes by a mother who wanted her daughter to have the leading role of Mary.
The newly qualified teacher was told that she could have free beauty treatments at a salon if her little girl got the starring role.
Wisely she had the integrity to refuse. But it does show the kind of pressures teachers are under.
Now, like lots of mums I’ve sat through umpteen school concerts as my children fluffed their lines, sang out of tune, dropped the frankincense or giggled and gossiped with a Wise Man.
It was clear, even to me that not one of my four had an acting gene in their body or that a career on stage or screen beckoned.
But I still loved the magic of the Nativity play. The round pink faces, the tremulous voices singing Away In A Manager, the angel’s halo which often slipped off, the simple, timeless simplicity of a story we know so well which is freshly interpreted every year by a new generation of primary school pupils.
This year my five-year-old grandson Jack was offered a part in his school’s play. The donkey. An important role, as the teacher explained. Without the donkey Bethlehem wouldn’t have happened.
Jack said no. We’re not sure why. Maybe it’s a macho thing.
His three-year-old cousin Jamila was offered the role of an angel in her nursery play.
No chance. She wants to be a shepherd with a lamb on her shoulder.
I fear, as a family, we’re really not a stage manager’s dream.
But if you’re going to a Nativity play next week, don’t worry if your child doesn’t have a starring role.
Give yourself up to what’s happening on that stage the sweet magic and mystery of Christmas, brought to us by little children.