Saturday night we dressed the family in Old Testament garb for our church's annual live nativity. Ryan was Joseph, I was Mary, Wesley was Jesus, and Charlie was a shepherd. The plan was that we would sit together in the manger with five or six live goats while a narrator read the Christmas Story and played music.
To summarize: Charlie, live animals, fifteen long minutes.
Because an entourage is not mentioned in any of the Gospels, we decided that Ryan, Wesley, and I should go out first, like in the script, and then Charlie should come along with the shepherds when it was their turn. Fortunately one of the other shepherds was a friend of mine and she agreed to keep an eye on Charlie.
So, Ryan and I went out there holding Wesley and sat on a bale of hay. As instructed, Ryan and I smiled and looked at each other or at Wesley. Finally the shepherds came into the manger, Charlie with my friend, walking nicely. They were to stand and adore the baby for a few minutes while the narrator continued the story then walk back and sit on the side of the stable. Charlie broke free from my friend and walked around the stable performing important shepherding jobs like petting the goats and feeding them hay. One of the other shepherds retrieved him before they left the manger and I lost track of him for a while.
I went back to doing my Mary jobs: gazing at the baby, smiling lovingly at Ryan, and nodding at the Three Wise men and the Three Kings who came to visit the newborn King. And also, firmly holding the pacifier in Wesley's mouth. Apparently they didn't do nursing tunics in first century Nazareth. I started to wonder what Charlie was up to and when I discretely broke character for a moment to look for him I found him wandering around in front of the stable petting the goats, holding out huge handfuls of hay for them, and playing with some Christmas lights on a fence in front of the stable. There was nothing I could do (nowhere in the Gospels does it say Mary threatened one of the shepherds with a time out and loss of Curious George watching privileges) so I was relieved when one of the other shepherds snuck out and led him back to the group.
Wesley is in there somewhere
Fortunately he was pretty mellow for the rest of the show and didn't actually try to EAT the hay until later when my mom took him to the petting zoo area. He washed it down with some hot cocoa and was as good as new. When my mom asked him how he liked being a shepherd, Charlie said "Sheep soft! Eat grass!"