This is not a standard anti Christmas, “bah humbug” rant about faith versus popular culture, or the commercialising of what is essentially a birthday celebration for everybody’s favourite imaginary friend. This, my brilliantly titled(which, as will become painfully clear is all I have at this stage) “Yule Blog”, is a heartfelt appeal to remember the often forgotten extra in the Christmas story – Joseph.
The Christmas story as taught in primary schools etc(although significantly, not in any ‘History’ syllabus I know of) told of Mary claiming that the angel Gabriel came to her and told her that “God was very pleased with her and was going to ‘bless’ her with a child”, before having a baby boy. Now then, let’s just for the purpose of this report, ignore the fact that that sounds remarkably like ‘grooming’ and instead look at this from the point of view of Mary’s long suffering, ever supportive yet surely despairing boyfriend Joseph.
So what of Joseph the man? His building career appears to have ground to a halt after his ill fated marriage and the birth of Christ(didn’t even keep his surname), and whilst it is unclear from the gospels it is likely that the legacy of “Virgin” Mary would not have helped him get work(word of mouth was, as is still the case, the most powerful form of advertising and works both ways). He doesn’t really get a mention in JC’s story when his stepson begins growing up and is increasingly a periphery figure in the bible. Like Denis Thatcher after The Iron Lady ‘retired’, wandering aimlessly trying to find or define a role for himself as he and even Mary were left in the wake of their son’s new found celebrity.
The difference here was that, whilst his wife could always fall back on the “Mary, Mother Of God” title (let’s be honest, I doubt she had to queue to get into the swanky bars and nightclubs of Galilee) Joseph had no such sway. “Husband Of The Mother Of God, Although Technically Not The Father Of God” would only serve to remind bouncers, restaurant managers etc that he was a doormat, hardly commanding respect or adoration. Indeed Joseph would have to wait until after his death for any real acknowledgement, and even then St. Joseph (Patron Saint of travellers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers and workers in general) didn’t exactly get a glamourous gig.
So here is my proposal. As we all open our presents and tuck in to our Americanised Christmas feast, let us remember St Joseph, as we will one day remember St Denis (Patron Saint of maintaining your dignity despite being the only bloke in the spouse section at cold war summits) because aside from the fact that March 19th(falling two short, hungover days after the ‘religious’ significance of St Patrick’s Day) is not exactly a classic date for remembrance, I think it would be far more appropriate to remember St Joseph on the anniversary of his finest and defining hour. When he ignored the smirking innkeeper and judgemental gaze of the Bethlehem on-call midwifery team and stood by his childhood sweetheart, as she had someone else’s child.
Alfie Moon, you have been warned.