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Interview with Cathy Key

Key, Cathy
Key, Rebecca
Date of Interview: 
Overcoming Obstacles; Relationships with People and Places; Stories and Storytellers; Childhood Adventures
Cathy Key recalls a Christmas mystery play her children are in.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Rebecca Key interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
CK (Cathy Key): ( ) Our children are doing a Christmas play called The Mystery of the Missing Manger, and it's going to be a story that involves an adult who will be the teacher. And sev-, several of the students in the church will be played by the children. And, uh, it's a, the setting is a classroom and so they, that's how they play begins and the teacher's Miss Holiday and she's a teacher, has a lot of excitement and wants to decorate for Christmas. And she wants to help the kids learn more of the true meaning of Christmas. So, that's how the play begins, of course, with the music, traditional songs and Christmas music. And then, uh, she starts, uh, addressing all the students and talking to them about the costumes and what they're going to be this year. She starts to hand out the index cards and everything and, uh, then the custodians come in and bring the boxes that have the Christmas decorations and costumes and, uh, the scenes for the nativity scenes. And so they, they begin to unpack all the boxes and put decorations up and get the costumes out. And as they are doing that they realize that something has happened. They can't find the wooden manger for the nativity, and so, uh, everybody gets upset. Not only is the nati-, manger missing, but also the baby Jesus doll that goes in there. And so they begin to, all the students begin to wonder about it. And, uh, so they begin to talk and not too long afterwards, they find a clue, a piece of paper. And all it has on it are the letters C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S and there's a period after each letter so they figure out that this must be an acrostic. And then they begin to try to figure out what this acrostic means because it's obviously a clue that maybe they can help find the missing manger. And so there's a group of four students that call themselves The Fifth Grade Detective Brigade because they like to solve mysteries like this and so they call on these four students, The Fifth Grade Detective Brigade, and their names are Max, Mario, Marsha and Meredith. And they come in and they're all dressed in detective clothes and they sneak around and they ask questions and trying to find out more about, you know, what this could mean about the missing manger. So, they begin to try to solve the acrostic saying C-H-R means "Christ Has Remembered," and "I," they come up, means "Instructions". "Christ has revealed instructions". And then as they are looking around, one of the detectives say, "Let's look in this in the Bible because Christ's instructions are in the Bible." [background noise] ( ) Another clue falls out of it and it's a bookmark and it has more letters on it. These letters say G-O-S-P-E-L and so they talk about the gospel and what is the story of Christ and how he was born in Bethlehem. And the shepherds were in the field and angels came and told them about a new baby that is born who is a savior and who is Christ the Lord. And so, uh, they finally decide that the letters of the gospel stand for "God's Only Son Provides Eternal Life." So, uh, after they, um, [background noise] begin to figure these clues out Miss Holiday decides we need to hurry up and get ready and get costumes on and go through the nativity scene in person. So they, she hands out all the costumes, and one boy named Peter comes back and speaks to Miss Holiday. He's sort of a slightly brainy boy and he doesn't like Christmas a lot. He just doesn't want to be in the nativity scene. And yet Miss Holiday wanted him to be the part of Joseph. And so he comes back and says, "I don't really want to. Why do we have to do this?" And, uh, so she begins to explain that it's not about, uh, being Joseph, it's, it's just the true meaning of Christmas. And Peter confides in her that last year his grandfather got sick right before Christmas and then he died, and so Christmas just isn't the same anymore without his grandfather. And so, she realizes that the loss that he's experiencing and, and she says she has also lost someone she loves, but that God knows how we feel and that because He had to see His son Jesus to die on the cross. And that's the whole reason that He came at Christmas. And so, after a song then, uh, Peter decides that, yes, the robe will fit just fine and he will be Joseph. So The Fifth Grade Detective Brigade come back after singing, and they, they say that they have decided that maybe they found out where the missing manger is. They say that one of the custodians was the manger thief because they found a sawdust trail and that's, the wood ma-, wooden manger is made out of wood and so, sawing wood, and they figure that the custodian did it. First, everybody, the rest of the children thought that Peter might have hidden the manger because that, he didn't want to be in the play. So, they begin to say we are going to go and confront Mr. Tidwell, who is the custodian. So he, they all make way when suddenly he enters and he's carrying the missing manger in his hand. And he tells them, "I brought the missing manger back that I fixed. I had to fix it because one of the legs was broken." And so that's why there was sawdust. And he said, "I didn't really say that there was a manger, the manger was missing. I just told you that here it was and that it was just missing." And the other, one of the other custodians, brings in the baby Jesus and he says, "Here is, in this box is the baby Jesus. Because I thought he needed repainting so I took him home to paint him." So, anyway, the mystery is solved and Christmas means, "Christ Has Revealed Instruction So That Many Are Saved," and that's what the acrostic means and that's the true meaning of Christmas.