Friday, December 5, 2008

Martha, Let Go of the Tablecloth

Thanks to Patty Wysong at Patterings for Fiction Friday - here is my entry - a play I wrote sometime ago...

A Christmas Play - Martha, Let Go of the Tablecloth

The Characters:
Samantha, the mother
Darrel, the father
Caitlin, the 13-year-old
Jeremy, the 5-year-old
Jesus – the usually silent, white-robed figure, standing in the background of every scene

The Story: It’s almost Christmas! Samantha is focusing on all the cleaning, cooking and decorating with her usual style of frantic over-achievement. In the midst of the chaos, 5-year-old Jeremy asks a pertinent question – but is anyone listening?

(Scene 1)
Setting: Our story opens in the living room. Samantha is multi-tasking. While talking on her cell phone, she is attempting to trim the tree, wrap some gifts and oversee the efforts of the children, who are impeding, helping or otherwise entertaining themselves.

Samantha: “Carol, have you seen Brenda since – well, you know… yes, mmm-hmmm.” [She briefly interrupts her phone call.] “Jeremy, don’t play with the nativity set,” “Oh yes, I know! I saw her at church on Sunday, and she said the same thing! Isn’t it awful? Jeremy! Stop and put the baby, Jesus, back in the manger. No, I’m still here, Carol. By the way, what are you planning for Christmas dinner? I still can’t make up my mind. The problem is my Aunt Bertha. She always makes that casserole with green beans, and really, what does that go with? It’s so … outdated!” [She laughs.] “Caitlin, please help me with your brother! He shouldn’t be playing with the nativity set, it’s too fragile, and I am trying to have a conversation here!” [She hangs another ornament on the tree. Caitlin appears not to hear, and Samantha goes on with her phone conversation.] “Carol, did I tell you about the tablecloth I’m going to make for Christmas dinner? No? Oh, it’s going to be beautiful! I found the most gorgeous red and green linen fabric at Sews-a-Lot! And I had this great idea for the napkins - I’m going to make them look like angels – well, it’s hard to explain, but it will be so pretty!”

Caitlin: “Mom, do you think Dad will like the present I got for him?” [She is sitting on the floor with wrapping paper and a gift in front of her.]

Samantha: “Of course he will like it, dear! Carol, are you having relatives over for Christmas? Oh, you’re going there? How lucky not to have to do all this cleaning and decorating - oh, I know! Jeremy, put that back, and this time I mean it!”

Jeremy: “Mom!” [He stops playing and carries the baby Jesus over to stand by his preoccupied mother.] “Mommy, is Jesus still a baby?” [He pats her to get her attention.]

Caitlin: “Mom!” [Spoken a bit louder than last time.] “Do you think Dad will like this?”

Samantha: “Of course he will like it, dear!”

Caitlin: “How do you know he will like it? You haven’t even looked, and you don’t know what it is!” [Caitlin puts the gift behind her back in a challenging manner.] “Hmm, Mom, how do you know he’ll like it if you don’t know what it is?”

Jeremy: “Mo-o-omm, is Jesus still a baby? Tell me!” [He pats her harder now.]

Samantha: “Carol I can’t get a moment’s quiet around here. I’m going to have to call you back – maybe when the kids are, say, eighteen? I hear they’re either out of the house or glued to the computer in their rooms by then! Ha ha! Okay, see you then!” [Samantha clicks off the cell phone, then gently but firmly takes the baby Jesus from Jeremy and puts it back in the manger.]

Samantha: “It’s not a toy, sweetheart, if you play with it, it might break, so let’s just leave it in the manger. Caitlin, let me see what you got for your dad – yes, he will definitely like that. What is it?” [She looks slightly mystified, but only for a moment as the phone still in her hand rings and she answers and begins a conversation with Aunt Bertha.] “Oh, Aunt Bertha, it’s so nice of you to call. Yes, we are looking forward to your spending Christmas with us, too. No, it won’t be too much trouble at all! Oh, of course you can bring the green bean casserole. You know everyone is looking forward to that!”

Jeremy: “Mom, not green beans! I don’t like green beans! Tell her to bring chocolate cake! Mom, Becky at school says Jesus is only a baby and you can’t talk to Him. I told her you talk to Him. Is Jesus still a baby? Mom, Mom! Is Jesus still a baby?” [He starts patting to get her attention again.]

Caitlin: “Jesus still a baby!” [She laughs.] “Little brothers are so dumb!”
Jeremy: “I am not dumb. Girls are dumb! They talk all the time and they never answer any questions!” [He walks away from his mother with his arms folded resolutely.]

Samantha: “Oh dear! Aunt Bertha, I’m going to have to call you back – the kids apparently need some attention. Okay, mm-hmm. Okay, we’ll see you then.” [As she clicks the phone off and starts to focus on the children, she glances at her watch.] “Oh my gosh, do you see what time it is? Your father will be home soon and I haven’t even thought about what to fix for dinner yet.”

Caitlin and Jeremy in unison: “Yay, pizza, pizza!”

Samantha: “We can’t order pizza every night!”

Caitlin: “Oh, Mom! Why not?”

Jeremy: “Yeah, Mom! Why not?”

Samantha: “Because the food police will arrest me for being a bad mother. Come on, let’s go to the kitchen. Caitlin, we’ll make a nice salad and open a can of chicken or something. Jeremy, you can set the table for me.”

(Scene 2)
Setting: The kitchen. Samantha is in her robe, hair in curlers. She’s holding a large coffee mug in one hand and a bible in the other. Darrell is pulling boxes of cereal out of the cupboard. Caitlin and Jeremy are at the table, still in pajamas.

Samantha: “Can you all manage if I disappear for a few minutes? I really need to have my quiet time.”

Jeremy: “Mommy, are you going to talk to Jesus?”

Samantha: “Yes, dear, I’m going to talk to Jesus.” [She tousles his hair and pats Caitlin on the back.]

Jeremy: “Becky says you can’t talk to Jesus because He is still a baby.”

Darrell: “We’re fine, dear. Don’t take too long, though. I have to get to work early this morning.”

Samantha: “Okay.”

Caitlin: “Mom, I don’t want to wear the blue skirt this morning. I want the pink one I wore Monday.”

Samantha: “I washed it, dear, and it’s not ironed yet. We’ll see if there’s time to iron it before school.”

Caitlin: “You know there won’t be time, there’s never time for anything. We’ll be rushing out of here at the last minute, like always! This family is never on time. This family is whacko!”[Samantha starts to respond, but Darrell pushes her gently out the door.]

Darrell: “We’re fine, dear. She’ll wear the blue skirt. Go!

Caitlin: “Dad! I want the pink one!”

(Scene 3)
Setting: Samantha’s quiet room – a small back bedroom, a sometimes-guest room, reading room, sewing room, and the place Samantha chooses to spend her quiet time each day with God. Samantha is presently seated on a small sofa, bible in her lap. Jesus stands behind her.

Jesus: “Martha, Martha, Martha!”

Samantha: [quietly] “Is that you, Lord?” [She laughs slightly.] “Lord, You know my name’s not Martha. You know my name is Samantha.”

Jesus: “My child. I surely know you.” [No one speaks for awhile.]

Samantha: “Lord, I’m sorry for being so – detached from You. I know I said that yesterday, too. I know I’ve been distracted. It just seems like there’s so much to do, especially now – You know – with Christmas coming in just a few more days.” [She sighs.] “I know. It’s supposed to be all about You, a celebration of your being born as a baby here on this earth. And I keep making it all about cleaning and cooking and decorating.” [She pauses again. Jesus is silent.] “But Lord, You know all those people really are expecting dinner and – well, it is a special occasion, it has to be nice, and who is going to do all this stuff if I don’t? I really do wish some of these people would see I just can’t get it all done and they should help me. I do everything myself, all the time, and sometimes I just feel so tired of it!” [She pauses, almost sulking, and looks at her nails.] “And besides all that, I need a manicure and a pedicure and a facial! I mean, really, do I have to look like an absolute frump when everybody gets here?”

Jesus: “Martha, Martha, Martha!”

[Samantha pauses, sighs, and opens her bible, but she doesn’t read it long.] "Okay, Lord. I’m being a Martha. And I’m whining. And I’m not paying enough attention to what’s really important. But I’m here now. I’m trying to be Mary now.” [Another pause and sigh.] “Lord, I need your help.”

Jesus: “I will help you. Focus on what’s important.”

Samantha: “You’re important. I do love You, Lord.”

Jesus: “Why are you here, Samantha?”

Samantha: [After thinking.] “I’m here because I need You more than anything. And because I said I wanted to learn to listen to You. I want to hear Your voice. I want to know what’s on Your heart. And I need to give You the first of my day, because I need You with me all day long.”

Jesus: “I am with you always. And I’m glad that you seek Me early. People are on My heart. Listen to me, and learn to listen to people. Jeremy asked you a question.”

Samantha: “I heard him, Lord. He asked if you are still a baby.” [She laughs slightly.]

Jesus: “I want you to answer the question.”

Samantha: “Lord, he’s so young, and I hardly understand You myself! How somehow You are the very God who created the universe, and yet You came to earth as a baby, You lived and walked as God in the body of a man, and then You died for the sins of all mankind, and You rose again to live as God in heaven and yet You live in our hearts through the Holy Spirit – and You’re always everywhere all at the same time - how am I supposed to explain all this to a five-year-old?”

Jesus: “It’s important that you not ignore his questions about Me, Samantha. When you speak, I Myself will give you wisdom what to say. He will grow to understand. Remember, it’s not about man’s ability to perceive Me – it’s about My ability to reveal Myself. Let the little children come to Me.”

Samantha: “You’re right, I know. Of course You are, You’re always right.”

Darrell: [Calling from the kitchen.] “Sam, I have to go!”

Samantha: “Coming! I gotta go, Lord. Please be with me and help me today!” [She starts to exit.]

Jesus: “Martha!”

Samantha: “Uh-oh.” [She stops with her hand on the doorknob and stands, head down slightly, not moving, waiting.]

Jesus: “Martha, let go of the tablecloth.”

Samantha: “Oh, Lord, my beautiful tablecloth I want to make for Christmas dinner? But Lord, I already bought the material! It’s so pretty – and if I can make the napkins stand up and look like angels – won’t it be just the prettiest Christmas table you ever saw?” [Jesus doesn’t respond. She hesitates, before sighing and speaking.] “I know. I really don’t have extra time for sewing right now, do I?”

Jesus: “Let go of the tablecloth. It will give you time to talk to the Jeremy.”

Samantha: “I guess the green one I made last year will do. And I have that beautiful red and gold ribbon to use for napkin rings, it won’t take any time. Okay, Lord. I will talk to Jeremy instead of sewing my tablecloth tonight.”

Jesus: “Samantha, it’s about ‘worth.’ Talking to Jeremy is worth far more than having the tablecloth. Remember, I love you!”

Samantha: “I know You do, Lord. I trust You and I love You, too!”[She exits.]


Hoomi said...

Mayhaps a bit too much truth in this one? Do we want to be reminded that we often get so caught up in the decorations for the feast that we forget the Guest of honor?

LauraLee Shaw said...

This is really great!!! I could totally see this acted out! Awesome.

Treasure Seeker said...

what a sermon!

ouch! i saw it acted out.

great job!

BethL said...

What a fun title! :) I laughed at the "green-bean casserole" comments. Great symbolism with "let's just leave it in the manger." I would love to see this play!

Dee Yoder said...

Awesome! Have you had the chance to see it acted out? What fun that would be! Good writing. ( :

Sherri Ward said...

Thanks for the encouragement! I have not had a chance to see it actually acted out... maybe someday!:)

Yvonne said...

I liked the "Martha, Martha, Martha". I think we mothers are like this more often than we want to admit. Thank you for this.

Stina Rose said...

How often are the little questions about Jesus and God the hardest ones to answer.

Great writing!

Patty Wysong said...

oh-so-good! There are some tablecloths I need to let go of. *sigh* It's so hard, but it's so worth it in the long run.

Thanks for the...smack (!!) Sherri, I needed it.

And I'm so glad to see you here!!