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Nativity Story
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Bright intense sunshine today, 85 degrees and climbing by 11:30 a.m. So this is Christmastide in southern California. Time to break out the sunglasses, protective straw hat and shorts. I expected increasing hours of daylight when the Solstice passed, but this more than meets my expectations.

Time to get in the car to go to the family gathering for Christmas Eve. Wonder if we'll have oyster stew again. And I get to tell the family my story of the Nativity in my own way....

Imagine Mary, just 14 or 15 years old, 9 months pregnant with her first baby, riding on a donkey (omigod) across the desert, just her and Joseph. You know they were alone, because if there had been a caravan, with women in it, they would never have let her ride a donkey, and when turned back by an innkeeper, the women would have grabbed him by the shirt collar and said there was a woman in labor, so *find* room. The innkeeper's wife would have helped, and there wouldn't have been only straw and hen droppings to clean the new baby.

Across the desert at night, freezing cold in the middle of winter. Joseph had to close up his shop and their living quarters, and hope everything would be still there when they got back. He must have been worried sick about Mary, about to give birth. Why on earth did they travel alone? Were they the only people headed back to Judea? Seems unlikely and they'd be targets for bandits who would want to steal the donkey if nothing else.

By this time in the story, everyone in our family is putting in her two cents' worth, imagining how it must have been. Maybe nobody wanted to travel with them after Mary started talking about how she got pregnant. Maybe they were late starting out because Mary couldn't get ready in time and Joseph had to find someone to watch their things that they were leaving behind--or find someone to buy them, so that they would have money for the journey. Leaving them broke after they had gone to be counted for the census.

It's quite a story, even if you leave out the Heavenly Host and the Three Magi (who may have been part of a caravan that caught up with them).

Next year in Jerusalem. Wonder if it will be 85 degrees and sunny?

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