Whether you believe in the Christmas story as truth or religion or just another fairy tale, if you look at it carefully, you will see that underneath all the symbols is a love story… if we were to take the story as just a story, and simplify it, this is how it would begin:
I think even those of us who “believe” tend to forget that Joseph was a step-father.
Step parents in general get a pretty bad rap, probably deserved much of the time. As a step-parent myself, I can honestly tell you it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I can’t even begin to imagine what went through Joseph’s head when Mary told him that she was pregnant. But somehow he felt he had a calling to protect this woman that he loved, and to love and protect her baby, and the rest is history. It’s also a great example of unconditional love.
In 1977, I graduated a year early from high school. My own parents were going through a divorce and getting away to college as fast as possible seemed like a great idea. There I met quite a few international students and became fast friends with this large group. One of them was my first husband. He was from Zambia, Africa. He was in the USA studying music, paid for by his government, because they did not offer this course of study in the one college or university in his country. The agreement was that when he graduated he had to go back to his country and teach his fellow citizens. He was a senior, I was a freshman. He asked me to marry him, my parents divorce was raging and I didn’t want to go home, so I said yes. By now I was 18 and there wasn’t a thing they could do to stop me. He graduated and just after Christmas in 1978, we left to go to Zambia to live.
I married for all the wrong reasons so this was not a marriage that would last very long. However, I got the experience of a lifetime living in a foreign country for a little over 3 years. And, of course, I got Little Helen. The Best Thing I Ever Did.
In the spring of 1982 when Little Helen was only 2½, and with my marriage falling apart, I moved back to the USA: to ultimately get a divorce. By the time Little Helen was 6 years old, her father would be gone and she would not see him again for 15 years.
Even though I had a child, I was in my early twenties and I dated quite a bit. I actually ended up engaged but that was not to be (and could be a blog in itself) but the good thing that came out of that relationship was that I gained a really good girlfriend, Margaret. Our boyfriends were friends and introduced us. When we broke up with the guys, she and I stayed friends!
Here’s the thing, Margaret was brown and every time we went somewhere with Little Helen people would ask her if the little girl was her daughter, or niece. It was funny because Little Helen did sort of look like Margaret's family. Pretty soon she started calling her “Auntie Margaret” as kids will do with people their adults love.
When I first broke up with my fiancé, Margaret said to me several times, “I have this brother that I’d love you to meet. Only two problems: he lives overseas and he’s married.”
Yep. Definitely a problem, especially the married thing.
To Be Continued…