There are loyal audience members, and then there is Donna Elnor.
Ms. Elnor has been attending The Christmas Story, an annual nativity play at Holy Trinity, Trinity Square, in downtown Toronto for the past 70 years. She hasn’t missed a single year.
She first attended the play when she was 11, just after the end of the Second World War. Her uncle had been badly injured in the war and would be coming back to Canada soon. To celebrate and give thanks, her mother and her decided to attend the play.
“We had the most wonderful experience, and we thought it would be great to start every Christmas this way,” she recalled.
She’s remained true to her word. Not only that, but attending the play has become a family tradition. Her sister has attended for 68 years, her daughter for 53 years, her niece for 39 years and her two grandchildren for 27 and 24 years.
One of the things she loves about it is that it has changed very little. “There’s continuity to it, and the music is so beautiful. You come away feeling uplifted.”
She has attended during blizzards and rain storms. She says the lighting has improved greatly, and the children always get a kick out of seeing a real baby play the part of the infant Jesus.
“I think families have a tradition at Christmas, and this is the greatest tradition of them all, hearing the Christmas story in that church,” she said.
Ms. Elnor first started going to the play when she was a member of the former St. Alban the Martyr in Toronto. She has attended a number of churches and is currently a member of St. Mary, Richmond Hill.
The Christmas Play has been performed at Holy Trinity every December since 1938. It was first performed at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London, England. It was brought to Toronto, complete with script and costumes, by Patricia Frank, who was the daughter of St. Martin’s vicar and then married his student, the Rev. John Frank, who became the priest at Holy Trinity.