It was Christmas. At four and a half, Michael was finally old enough to be an angel in our church pageant. That Sunday morning, he was so preoccupied with adjusting his wings and pulling the golden halo down over his eyes so he could see it, that I never thought to look for contraband. It wasn't until I settled into my seat, and all the children were at the front of our church that I noticed Michael held Vernon, the cabbage patch doll, securely under his right arm. I recognized the bright blue of Vernon's swim trunks between the folds of Michael's white angel costume.
Everything went smoothly, until the director led all the little preschool angels to stand center stage behind the manger. As the older girl playing Mary put the baby Jesus doll in the manger, Michael pulled Vernon from under his arm, made his doll soar back and forth twice over the manger, then dropped him beside the baby Jesus. Mary quickly grabbed Vernon and stuffed him behind the manger. Just as quickly, Michael was down on his knees retrieving his doll. He dropped Vernon right back in the manger.
I lost count of how many times Mary and my little angel tossed Vernon back and forth. Finally Mary gave up. Vernon stayed with baby Jesus, with Michael's smile beaming over them both.