It was just like the last time when Mary approached me to finish her story.  The rest of the group had gone to bed, and I was sitting by the fire, waiting for it to burn itself out. I was in my nowhere place, not thinking of anything in particular when she joined me.

“May I?” she asked

“Sure, pull up a rock.”

“You know, it wasn’t easy for Joseph and I when it became obvious that I was pregnant.  My parents didn’t believe me, and that hurt. First, they shipped me off to my mother’s cousin Elizabeth’s in Jerusalem.  Even though she was old, she was pregnant with his first child, her son was the one you knew as John the Baptizer.  After John was born, things became a little hectic around the house.  You can only imagine.  Zechariah and Elizabeth had lived alone for over thirty years and now they had to cope with a newborn.  John was an easy baby, but he was still a baby.

“I tried to help, but after Elizabeth was back on her feet, it seemed like I was just in the way.  I went back to Nazareth, but my parents had turned their back on me. I ended up staying with Joseph’s parents and sleeping in his older sister’s room. 

“Jacob and Ruth were good to me, but I’m not convinced that they completely believed Joseph and I.  And to be truthful, I don’t know if I would have believed it, if it hadn’t happened to me.  It was close to the end of my pregnancy that we discovered that a census had been called and everyone had to return to the city of their birth.  I guess I knew that Joseph had been born in Bethlehem, but he had lived in Nazareth all his life, what a shock to discover that we would have to make the journey.

Luckily we didn’t have to make the trip alone, we travelled in a group, along with us, there were Joseph’s parents and siblings. 

When we arrived in Bethlehem, the village was packed.  There wasn’t a place to be found that had a spare bed. Finally, Jacob found a distant cousin who said that we could stay in the stable attached to his house.  They moved the animals out and cleaned things up for us, it wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t horrible.   And that night, it happened.  That was when Jesus was born.  Joseph’s mother was there to help, which was good because Joseph was a basket case, like all men are when babies are born.

“I was exhausted, but I couldn’t sleep, Joseph and I took turns holding Jesus, counting his fingers and toes and marveling at how perfect he was.  And while everybody was sleeping, except for the three of us, we had company.

“They were trying to be quiet, but we heard them long before they arrived. It was a group of shepherds, and from their apparel and aroma you could tell they had just come from the fields.

“They were so excited at the sight of Jesus they could hardly contain themselves.  They told a story of angels in the sky, angels who told them where they could find us.  And who told them that our son, was the messiah. 

“By then everybody in the house was awake and heard the story of the angels.  I will never forget that night.

“It was decided that since we were so close to Jerusalem that it would be a great opportunity to have our son dedicated in the temple. 

“After we had presented Jesus at the temple, we returned to Bethlehem to rest before making the trip back to Nazareth.  That night we had more visitors, but this time it wasn’t shepherds. 

“These men arrived with an entire entourage, they told us they had been following the promise of a star for months.  And talk about coincidences, they had been in Jerusalem at the same time as we were.

“They said they had been asking everyone where they could find the newborn king they had been told about, but nobody knew anything about it.

“Apparently their questions were heard in high places because they were called before King Herod.  It was some of the Kings advisors who spoke about the old prophecy and pointed them to Bethlehem.

“Well, Jesus charmed them as only a baby can and before they left, they gave us gifts.  There was a small chest of gold, some frankincense as well as myrrh.  It seemed kind of strange at the time, little did we know how soon we’d need that gold.

“The visitors told us that Herod wanted them to bring him news of their visit, but they didn’t have a good feeling about it, so they were planning to bypass Jerusalem on their way home. 

“That night, Joseph had another visit from the angel.  This time the angel warned him that King Herod had decided in one of his jealous rages, that our son was a threat to his throne, and that we needed to escape to Egypt until Herod was no longer a threat.

“That very night, Joseph packed us up, and we headed for the land our forefathers had escaped from all those years ago.   I don’t know how we would have survived without the gift of gold that the strangers from the east had given us.”

I couldn’t contain myself and interrupted her story “Egypt?  Jesus never said anything about spending time in Egypt.” “I can’t imagine that he would, he was still a baby when Herod died and we returned to Nazareth.”

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