December 30, 2006- The Lake City Reporter

By H. Morris Williams

When I was in fifth grade, I was in a school play called "The 'C' in Christmas". I got stage fright and forgot my lines but got help from an unexpected source. Here is the story.

Mrs. Lucille Inman, our teacher, told our class that we would be putting on a school play called "The 'C' in Christmas". It would be a simple play with a customary Christian theme, and we would be presenting it in front of the other elementary classes.

She selected nine students to be in the play—one student for each letter in the word Christmas—and each student was assigned one of the letters that spells Christmas. For example, one kid would be the "C" in Christmas, another would be the "H", another the "R", and so on.

The idea was that we kids would line up across the stage holding a large cut-out of their letter and the letters seen all together would spell "Christmas."

Then each kid would recite his assigned part, beginning with a Christmas word that started with the letter they were holding.

Parts in the play were assigned. Friend Cleveland Brock would be the "C", I would be the "H", another friend, Beanie Bryant, would be the "R", etc.

Cleve was a large, outgoing boy but Beanie was the smallest girl in our class and the quietest. She had had polio and wore a heavy metal brace on her left leg. Her brace made a soft, clinking sound as she limped along. 

Everybody liked Beanie and helped her when she needed help.

We loved play rehearsal and practiced our parts so much that some of us came to know each other's lines as well as our own.

Time passed fast and soon there we were standing on the stage in front of all the other kids, holding our letters.

Our narrator stepped forward and said, "We are Mrs. Inman's fifth grade class and our play is called "The 'C' in Christmas."

Then Cleve stepped forward holding a big "C" and said confidently, "I am the 'C' in Christmas. 'C' stands for Christ. We celebrate Christmas because of the birth of Christ."

Then I stepped forward holding my 'H', but as soon as I looked out into the sea of faces, I froze in my tracks.  My mind went completely blank and I just stood there not knowing what to do.

But, after a minute of utter hopelessness, I heard the familiar, soft clink of metal and out of the corner of my eye, I saw little Beanie limping out to stand beside me.

She leaned toward me and whispered, "Say 'I am the 'H' in Christmas' " and I did. She knew my part and was going to help me! Then, line-by-line, she slowly whispered my part and  line-by-line I repeated what she said.

" 'H' Stands for Holy. Christ is holy. Holy means Christ is pure, perfect, free from sin." I was done. My nightmare was over.

Beanie stayed out front and said her part perfectly. So did all the other students and the short play was over.  Then we all held our letters high over our heads for the final spelling of "Christmas" and shouted, "Merry Christmas, everybody!"

The students clapped and we marched off stage and back to our classroom. Mrs. Inman gave us all a big hug and told us how proud she was of us.

Then she went to Beanie and thanked her for helping me, and Beanie said, 'Mrs. Inman, you told us to always help others when they need help. Everybody here helps me every day and I try to help them when I can."

With that, we all bounded out of the room and ran home for two weeks of glorious Christmas vacation.

Cleve and Beanie, both now long gone from this earth, can still remind us of the two essential lessons to remember at Christmas and throughout the year. 

From Cleve, "The 'C' in Christmas stands for Christ. We celebrate Christmas because of the birth of Christ." And from Beanie, "Help others when they need help."

Christmas is just as simple and eloquent as that. square

H. Morris Williams is a local historian and long-time Columbia County resident.