Thursday, December 24, 2009
Another Christmas Story
So there we are on the road to Bethlehem from Galilee and the traffic is absolutely crazy. Normally I wouldn't consider traveling during the holidays, but what can you do when the Romans are in charge? Like my Cousin Moshe always says: "There are three ways to do things: the right way, the wrong way, and the Roman way."
I have nothing against Augustus personally, you understand, but there has got to be an easier way to take a census than to make every poor
Jew travel to the city of his birth. Not that it is any inconvenience to the mighty Caesar to be sure.
You know that once they count noses they will only use it as an excuse to raise taxes. Like Uncle Joshua says, "There are only two things certain in this life, and taxes is one of them."
You would think that the government would realize that it cannot continue to tax the middle-class artisans this way. What with the recent recession in Judea, the carpentry trade has not exactly been thriving. I don't know how I am going to pay.
Finally I come to the last Inn in town and I know the innkeeper slightly. He says to me, "So you came to Bethlehem. You walked, or did you ride?" I explain to him that because of Mary's condition she rode and I walked. He tells me that he is booked up too, and even if he wasn't, he has a rowdy crowd in his place that will probably party all night and sing songs that Mary should not hear. Then he says that his brother-in-law owns the stable down the street, and he knows that they recently slew one of the oxen for a big barbecue, so there may be some space there. I get the directions, and sure enough there is an empty stall with a manger in it. The stable-master overcharges me, but he does put down some fresh straw and gives us a clean bucket for water. Just in time too, because Mary tells me her water has broken and the baby is coming.
After a while some mighty strange folks showed up, and wanted to give gifts to the baby. What use does a newborn have for frankincense and myrrh, I ask you?
The gold will certainly be useful for the trip to Egypt, though. They seemed sincere enough, and were well dressed and all, but you just never know about strangers and foreigners. They claimed they had traveled a long way, but I think they were just lost and confused. When some shepherd boys arrived and wanted to set up a stand to sell commemorative shirts it was just too much. They kept waking up the baby with all the fuss they were making, and I had to run the lot of them off so that Mary and I could have some peace and privacy.
Well, got to run now, Mom, as I hear the baby crying, and Mary is entitled to a few hours rest. I think he may have a touch of colic, and the only way to get him back to sleep is to walk him and sing to him. I tell you, as I hold this precious child in my arms I wonder what life has in store for him. You can already tell that this one has a mind of his own. In these dangerous and unsettled times one might well hesitate to bring a new child into the world, but it is, after all, God's Will.
William's Whimsical Words:
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