brynndragon: (Jewish Pagan)
[personal profile] brynndragon
I figured, being in the somewhat unusual position of being raised by a Catholic mother as a Jew, that I would share my notion of the story of Christmas because it might be interesting/hilarious/offensive. Due to my commentary this got long, so here's

Now, my family does all the secular aspects of Christmas - an evergreen tree with lights and ornaments, nice meals the Eve before and the day of with the later being with my mom's family, stockings hung on the mantel to be filled with candy, Santa bringing us presents that we were not allowed to wake up our parents to go open until 7 AM. Everything else I've had to pick up via osmosis, which isn't necessarily difficult in our culture but some accuracy might've been lost along the way. I've never read the New Testament (well, I know that line about "in the beginning was the Word and the Word was God", which is a neat idea, but that's pretty much it). Let's begin, shall we?

So there's a Jewish woman named Miriam who is married to this Jewish guy named Yosef and they need to get to their home town for a census taking or taxes or something bureaucratic like that (why they weren't already home given that winter in that part of the world isn't terrible but isn't great either, I don't know; maybe this is part of the whole "actually happened some other time of year" thing people talk about). Somehow or other they have already managed to do what should not be possible on a Jewish wedding night, woken up the next day with her still a virgin (did they not get the memo about the blood on the sheets tradition or did they fake it? Not having chickens yet, what would they have used?); I'm not sure how long they'd been married at this point in the story, but it seems like they have repeated failed to follow one of God's most basic orders to His people, that of reproducing (or at least doing your level best as often as allowed). Maybe God's OK with that since she's going to be having a kid anyway, which is apparently entirely His doing; I don't think there were any angels involved but Christians do seem to love them some angels so that would make sense to me if there's a bit about angels being involved there. (this is the part where we get to make horrible jokes about how exactly God knocked her up; I'll leave those as an exercise for the reader since I'm not feeling *that* blasphemous today).

So there she is, really a lot pregnant, trying to get home (again, why the hell didn't they do the traveling ahead of time? I mean, they're young parents and who knows the gestational period of a son of God anyway, but you'd think that would have made them more anxious to not have to travel any later than necessary. I mean, the man's a carpenter, not a shepherd who has to follow a flock - he can work out of his shop at home, I'm sure. Wait, wasn't there something about this being a random census, or some governor getting nervous about "signs and portents" or whatnot and calling one spontaneously? Still doesn't explain why they weren't home already. Maybe everyone had to gather in a nearby big city or something.). As with all travelers they need to stop when night falls and do so in Bethlehem, but like Graduation Weekend in Boston they find that all the rooms are already rented (maybe her pregnancy slowed them down so they got into town later than anticipated). Some hotel owner somewhere took pity on the poor couple and offered a space in his stable. Unfortunately he did not offer the name of the nearest midwife, or at least I've never heard of such a woman and you'd think she'd be all blessed and stuff if she'd been around to assist at such a literally awesome birth. Thankfully the birth itself went OK (I assume since everyone lived afterward and no one ever mentions it at all - it's almost like the story was told by people who think girls are icky mysterious). Since this is the birth of His son and all God makes a big old star show up in the sky over that stable (He can make a star but can't get her a bed?), and the animals are all peaceful and happy despite having been stuck in a stable with a woman going through her first labor and delivery for the past God only knows how many hours.

Around that time three really wise kings meet up in a tavern and decide to embark on a journey to give the kid some presents (the first instance of someone getting shafted on gifts for their birthday falling on Christmas, since he only gets one apiece from them). You can tell they're wise because they know that star in the sky means someone really special has shown up (either God had a kid or or the Jews got a new king, since somehow it's figured this kid is descended from King David even though the line of specific ancestry goes through the father who we already know is *not* descended from King David). Along the way they tell a bunch of shepherds what the star means (or maybe an angel told them and they told the three kings?) and the shepherds join in on going to Bethlehem so you've got this massive procession of sheep and shepherds (because you can never have too much symbolism) with the three kings going to Bethlehem. Apparently one the shepherds got a drum somewhere, or a random kid with a drum joins them at some point, or something.

So they get to the stable, where Miriam and Josef have apparently spent several days (either the bureaucratic whatsis is running at its normal pace or the happy couple finally figured out when not to travel (I actually don't know if Bethlehem was their destination or a stop along the way) yet the hotel owner thinks nothing of making them stay in the barn with a newborn - oh, wait, aren't they poor or something and can't afford a room? Or maybe the wise men knew what was up before the star appeared, or the star appeared before the birth and was why the governor called the spontaneous census, and they got there the day of the birth?) and they give the kid Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh (the later two are not only expensive and nice-smelling but also ancient remedies for helping to heal wounds, nice bit of foreshadowing there). And that's pretty much where the story ends as far as I know. I assume everyone goes to their respective homes after that (kinda like the end of The Lord of the Rings - wouldn't it be awesome if the New Testament included a story about one of the kings finding his land had been taken over by a villainous councilor in his absence and he had to fight to retake it?).


And that's the story as far as I know. How accurate am I?

(Maybe I'll do this again when Easter comes around; be warned, that's even more liable to be offensive since some of the more wacky Christian traditions like ritual cannibalism come out of that story)
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benndragon

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