Joseph’s Letter Home – a Christmas Story

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
December 13, 1999

This is a two cup story…    Kleenex needed…..    Kenny  T

Cup One
Dear Mom,

We’re still in Bethlehem–Mary and I and little Jesus.

There were lots of things I couldn’t talk to you about last summer. You wouldn’t have believed me then, but maybe I can tell you now. I hope you can understand.

You know, Mom, I’ve always loved Mary. You and dad used to tease me about her when she was still a girl. She and her brothers used to play on our street. Our families got together for supper. But the hardest day of my life came scarcely a year ago when I was twenty and she only fifteen. You remember that day, don’t you?

The trouble started after we were betrothed and signed the marriage agreement at our engagement. That same spring Mary had left abruptly to visit her old cousin Elizabeth in Judea. She was gone three whole months. After she got back, people started wondering out loud if she were pregnant.

It was cloudy the day when I finally confronted her with the gossip. “Mary,” I asked at last, “are you going to have a baby?”

Her clear brown eyes met mine. She nodded.

I didn’t know what to say. “Who?” I finally stammered.

Mom, Mary and I had never acted improperly–even after we were betrothed.

Mary looked down. “Joseph,” she said. “There’s no way I can explain. You couldn’t understand. But I want you to know I’ve never cared for anyone but you.” She got up, gently took my hands in hers, kissed each of them as if it were the last time she would ever do that again, and then turned towards home. She must have been dying inside. I know I was.

The rest of the day I stumbled through my chores. It’s a wonder I didn’t hurt myself in the woodshop. At first I was angry and pounded out my frustrations on the doorframe I was making. My thoughts whirled so fast I could hardly keep my mind on my work. At last I decided just to end the marriage contract with a quiet divorce. I loved her too much to make a public scene.

I couldn’t talk to you. Or anyone, for that matter. I went to bed early and tried to sleep. Her words came to me over and over. “I’ve never cared for anyone but you…. I’ve never cared for anyone but you….” How I wished I could believe her!

I don’t know when I finally fell asleep. Mom, I had a dream from God. An angel of the Lord came to me. His words pulsated through my mind so intensely I can remember them as if it were yesterday.

“Joseph, son of David,” he thundered, “do not fear to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”

I couldn’t believe my ears, Mom. This was the answer! The angel continued, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

The angel gripped my shoulders with his huge hands. For a long moment his gaze pierced deep within me. Just as he turned to go, I think I saw a smile on his shining face.

I sat bolt upright in bed. No sleep after that! I tossed about for a while, going over the words in my mind. Then I got up and dressed quietly so I wouldn’t wake you.

I must have walked for miles beneath the moonless sky. Stars pricked the blackness like a thousand tiny pinpoints. A warm breeze blew on my face.

I sang to the Lord, Mom. Yes, me, singing, if you can imagine that. I couldn’t contain my joy. I told Him that I would take Mary and care for her. I told Him I would watch over her–and the child–no matter what anyone said.

I got back just as the sun kissed the hilltops. I don’t know if you still recall that morning, Mom. I can see it in my mind’s eye as if it were yesterday. You were feeding the chickens, surprised to see me out. Remember?

“Sit down,” I said to you. “I’ve got to tell you something.” I took your arm and helped you find a seat on the big rock out back. “Mom,” I said, “I’m going to bring Mary home as my wife. Can you help make a place for her things?”

You were silent a long time. “You do know what they’re saying, don’t you, son?” you said at last, your eyes glistening.

“Yes, Mom, I know.”

Your voice started to rise. “If your father were still alive, he’d have some words, I’ll tell you. Going about like that before you are married. Disgracing the family and all. You… you and Mary ought to be ashamed of yourselves!”

You’d never have believed me if I’d tried to explain, so I didn’t. Unless the angel had spoken to you, you’d have laughed me to scorn.

“Mom, this is the right thing to do,” I said.

Cut Two
And then I started talking to you as if I were the head of the house. “When she comes I don’t want one word to her about it,” I sputtered. “She’s your daughter-in-law, you’ll respect her. She’ll need your help if she’s to bear the neighbors’ wagging tongues!”

I’m sorry, Mom. You didn’t deserve that. You started to get up in a huff.

“Mom,” I murmured, “I need you.” You took my hand and got to your feet, but the fire was gone from your eyes.

“You can count on me, Joseph,” you told me with a long hug. And you meant it. I never heard another word. No bride could hope for a better mother-in-law than you those next few months.

Mom, after I left you I went up the road to Mary’s house and knocked. Her mother glared at me as she opened the door. Loudly, harshly she called into the house, “It’s Joseph!” almost spitting out my name as she said it.

My little Mary came out cringing, as if she expected me give her the back of my hand, I suppose. Her eyes were red and puffy. I can just imagine what her parents had said.

We walked a few steps from the house. She looked so young and afraid. “Pack your things, Mary,” I told her gently. “I’m taking you home to be my wife.”

“Joseph!” She hugged me as tight as she could. Mom, I didn’t realize she was so strong.

I told her what I’d been planning. “We’ll go to Rabbi Ben-Ezer’s house this week and have him perform the ceremony.”

I know it was awfully sudden, Mom, but I figured the sooner we got married the better it would be for her, and me, and the baby.

“Mary, even if our friends don’t come, at least you and I can pledge our love before God.” I paused. “I think my Mom will be there. And maybe your friend Rebecca would come if her dad will let her. How about your parents?”

I could feel Mary’s tiny frame shuddering as she sobbed quietly.

“Mary,” I said. I could feel myself speaking more boldly. “No matter what anyone says about you, I’m proud you’re going to be my wife. I’m going to take good care of you. I’ve promised God that.”

She looked up.

I lowered my voice. “I had a dream last night, Mary. I saw an angel. I know.”

The anguish which had gripped her face vanished. She was radiant as we turned away from the house and began to walk up the hill together.

Just then her mother ran out into the yard. “Wait,” she called. She must have been listening from behind the door. Tears were streaming down her cheeks.

“I’ll get your father,” she called, almost giddy with emotion. “We,” she cried as she gathered up her skirts. “We,” she shouted as she began to run to find her husband. “We … are going to have a wedding!”

That’s how it was, Mom. Thanks for being there for us. I’ll write again soon.

Love, Joseph

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
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23 comments
  1. paulfg said:

    Box of tissues please …

  2. Carole Boshart said:

    There should be a second letter, written from Bethlehem. I wish there was some way to contact the author and ask if he did write another portion, or if he would permit someone else to write one.

  3. Definitely a two cup and tissue story! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Very nice, I felt I was seated in the front row and was enjoying the play 🙂

  5. what a fantastic interpretation. One wonders – how difficult it must have been for the two of them in that day and age – to have had such great devotion and faith. I love that this story puts a more “human” aspect to the Christmas Story. It becomes so much more relatable. Thank-you, Kenny! And Merry Christmas!

  6. dbp49 said:

    A very human and beautiful interpretation of a story we all probably read much too fast, and with far too little thought when we do read it. Thank you for encouraging me to take my time with it finally, and consider just how difficult it must have been for all those concerned. I strongly suspect I will be reblogging this tonight at midnight so that I can keep in line with my normal scheduling at “Vancouver Visions“. Thank-you for the lovely piece and have a very Merry Christmas.

  7. dbp49 said:

    Reblogged this on Vancouver Visions and commented:
    I don’t know how many times I’ve read this particular Bible story, but I suspect that it’s one of those stories that I always read a little too fast, and without giving enough attention to the details. I mean, I believe the story to be true, after all, I am a person of Christian beliefs. But just imagine how difficult it would have been for Mary to convince Joseph that yes, she was with child, but no, she had not been unfaithful to him. Think for a moment of the sheer terror she must of experienced as she contemplated breaking this news to her beloved. Next, consider Joseph’s predicament, as he could no longer deny the rumors that must have been circulating among the close-knit community as his betrothed was obviously beginning to show, and the apprehension he must have felt as he finally had no choice but to confront her. And then, loving her or not, he had to decide what to do about it, and remember, the culture of those times, in that place, was nothing like it is here, in modern times. No, once I gave this story the consideration it deserved, I realized this event contained some of the highest, most intense drama, of any story I had ever read. That’s why I love the “Morning Story and Dilbert Blog”, and why I had to reblog this particular posting. And if I can make any suggestion to you at all, it is simply that you read this short little story , this hypothetical letter from Joseph to his mother, with the attention that it deserves. If you do, I think you will agree with me that it must have been one of the toughest things a human being ever had to go through. Enjoy.

  8. Thanks. I’ve often wondered about the personal story.

  9. It’s always a blessing when something tells us that the Bible is about real people! Even if can’t know the real story. Thank you for this.

  10. mdetweiler said:

    Reblogged this on Isn't Enough Blog and commented:
    very touching testament of faith, trust and obedience …

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