- The Washington Times - Friday, December 24, 1999

14 days B.C.

Greetings to friends and family from Mary and Joseph!

Whew! What a year.

By the time you read this, we'll be in Bethlehem for the new year.

The Holiday Inn if there's room.

We had meant to spend this month home in Nazareth, passing the holidays with just close friends. We're not young anymore I'm nearly 28. But then we learned on the news that the Romans are holding a census back in Bethlehem. Since that's my hometown (the curse of being a descendant of King David), we'll be on the move.

They say it's the busiest travel period of the year, too. Traffic should get better next year when they open up that camel bypass around Galilee.

I'm still a subcontractor in Nazareth. Carpentry and mud-walling mostly. We planned to open up our own business in the summer, but then the economy and house prices took a downturn. The plague of locusts didn't help either.

Mary did some day-trading for a while this past year, mostly pomegranates, but found the ups and downs of the business too stressful and shut up her market stall in September.

We may head west to Egypt in the New Year. They're desperate for knowledge workers in the high-tech Nile Valley, and there are media reports here in the east that Herod may downsize all Jews under the age of two. Which brings me to the biggest news of the year.

Mary's pregnant. She went and saw someone, who told her it was one of the neatest, most perfect conceptions ever. "You're telling me," I said to Mary! (That's an in-joke to those in the know we'll explain it to you when we see you, Zacharias and Elizabeth.) Still, it's a miracle of modern medicine that they can tell that sort of thing these days.

But as long as the baby's healthy, that's all that matters to us. If he has my gift with words he might become a motivational speaker. In an ideal world he would go into business with me when he's old enough, but Mary's already predicting he will be the Messiah.

"Messiah! What about my business?" I said to her. "He can be the Messiah and partner with you at the same time," said Mary, "we'll call it Prophet-sharing." This is why I adore Mary.

We're still taking suggestions for names. We're thinking traditional: Bathsheba or Ruth if it's a girl, Hezekiah or Samuel if it's a boy. To those who suggested Ryan or Ashley, keep those ideas coming.

The best to you all for the New Year, the year I predict we will finally see peace in the Middle East.

Alexander Wooley is a writer in Toronto, Ontario.

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