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Franklin bifocals Tuesday, December 24, 2013          Christmas candle in window   Christmas Eve

Dr. Benjamin Rush    Dr. Benjamin Rush    Dr. Benjamin Rush
[1745 - Benjamin Rush, physician, founding father, writer, educator, psychiatrist, humanitarian, born in Byberry, Pennsylvania]

Union Officer Kit Carson    Frontiersman Kit Carson
[1809 - Kit (Christopher) Carson, frontiersman, scout, born in Madison County, Kentucky]

Physicist James Joule    Physicist James Joule
[1818 - James Prescott Joule, physicist, born in Salford, Lancashire, England]

Poet Matthew Arnold    Poet Matthew Arnold
[1822 - Matthew Arnold, poet, essayist, born in Laleham, Middlesex, England]

Song Writer Harry Warren    Song Writer Hall of Famer Harry Warren    Academy Award-winner Harry Warren    Academy Award-winner Harry Warren
[1893 - Harry Warren (Salvatore Antonio Guaragna), Academy Award-winning composer, born in Brooklyn]

Industrialist Howard Hughes    Film Producer Howard Hughes
[1905 - Howard Hughes, aviator, industrialist, film producer, born in Humble, Texas]

Composer Franz Waxman    Conductor Franz Waxman
[1906 - Franz Waxman (Wachsmann), Academy Award-winning composer, conductor, born in Silesia(now Chorzow, Poland)]

Journalist Izzy Stone    Journalist Izzy Stone    Journalist Izzy Stone
[1907 - I.F. (Isidor Feinstein) Stone, journalist, publisher, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]

Film Goddess Ava Gardner    Film Goddess Ava Gardner
[1922 - Ava (Lavinia) Gardner, actress, born in Grabtown, North Carolina]

Dancer, Choreographer Robert Joffrey    Choreographer Robert Joffrey
[1930 - Robert Joffrey (Khan), choreographer, dancer, ballet founder and director, born in Seattle, Washington]

Another Christmas Story

woman carrying jar 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." Roman horse chariot 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. Caesar thinking 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." Roman swinging sword 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.

Anyway it seemed like we had been on the road for days, and poor Mary about nine months pregnant and all. Every time the stupid donkey would step in a pothole she would give me one of those looks as if it were all my fault. I guess I am supposed to take on the entire XIV Legion singlehanded or something. Finally we get to Bethlehem exhausted, and I start making the rounds of the Inns. Wouldn't you know it, like the entire tribe has decided to come to town on the same weekend, and every room is booked. I know I should have made a reservation, but who would have imagined that the little town of Bethlehem would fill up like that. I take one look at Mary and know that I am never going to hear the end of this one.

no vacancy sign

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.
Joseph and pregnant Mary
I don't know how we made it through that night. Thank God for the bright light that shone all around and the local midwife that showed up miraculously. Mary and I had looked at some baby furniture, but we couldn't afford it, so the manger would have to do for a crib. Manger with Mary, Joseph, &  Baby Jesus It was a boy, of course, and a right healthy one at that. Mary came through the birth in pretty good shape as well. As I looked at the little fellow in her arms all wrapped up in some swaddling clothes that one of the kind neighbor ladies had brought by, I could not help but be caught up in the miracle of it all.mary_holding_baby_jesus_md_clr A new life where a moment before there had been none.

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?wisemen_presenting_gifts_lg_clr 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. Jesus holds out wine & bread

William's Whimsical Words:

Joseph doesn't get much press. We fathers seldom do.

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