The celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ is a momentous event for Catholics. Though many people have replaced mangers with Christmas trees and the gifts of the magi with presents from Macy’s, there is one little Catholic who remembers with vivid detail the glorious birth of baby Jesus.
Or at least, makes up her own, and way better, version.
This all began Christmas Eve Eve…my sister and I were headed to our bed (cause Britt likes to snuggle during break) when we got into a debate about whether Joseph and Mary were married when Jesus was born. We called my boyfriend, who after 17 years of Catholic schooling informed us of his “expert” opinion, and then we brought in the real expert…after calling Nonna for 5 minutes straight to no-avail, rather than get out of bed, we called Nonna’s house phone from Britt’s cell phone. This is the conversation which transpired:
Britt: Non? It’s us, we have a question.
Nonna: Why you callin me? Where are you?
Britt: In the other room.
Nonna: You crazy.
Aunt Mary: I gonna kickin your ass.
Nonna: You aunt is gonna kickin you ass.
Britt: Non, we have a serious question.
Me: Nonna, were Joseph and Mary married when Jesus was born?
Nonna: Yes it is.
(by this time, we had both my boyfriend,Chris, and Nonna on speaker phone)
Chris the “Theology Expert”: No they weren’t married!
Nonna: Yes it is. Mary and Joseph they was engaged. And then Mary becomin pregnant with Jesus. And then Joseph say he don wan anything to doin with her because she is pregnant and he thinkin she with another man. But she no with another man, she is with God. And he puttin the baby Jesus in her. Then the angel came down and say to Joseph you gonna marry that girl because she is pregnant with Jesus. So them Joseph say, h-ok Mary we gonna get married. Then when Mary was three months pregnant they getting married. (side note: how did they know she was three months pregnant in B.C. time?)
Chris the Theology Expert: What?! That is not true!
Nonna: So then they go to Bethlehem and everybody thinkin they are married and having a baby. And then they had no place to sleep and then they had baby Jesus in the manger and everyone was happy and they angels tellin everyone whats going on.
Britt: Nonna, Chris said you are wrong.
Nonna: No I am right.
Britt: Ok thank you Non, goodnight.
Nonna: Don you callin again.
After a good ten minutes of laughing about the Christmas Story – Nonna style, we went to bed. On Christmas Day, Britt decided to have Nonna retell the events from the other night to the whole family at christmas dinner…
Britt: Nonna, tell everyone about the other night.
Nonna: They callin me at 1:00am and I thinkin someone dies, but then the girls wanted to know if Virgin Mary was a virgin, so I tellin them she was a virgin and then she had the baby and it was Jesus.
Britt: That is not what happened AT ALL.
Nonna: Yes it is.
Britt: No, we called you at 10:45 to ask you if Joseph and Mary were MARRIED when Jesus was BORN.
Nonna: Oh. They were married when Mary was three months pregnant.
Now, not to doubt my Nonna’s “sequence of events” but…we’re pretty sure her story is without bibilical support. As a threshold matter: I do not believe there is anyway to know whether Mary was three months pregnant when Joseph and Mary were married. Secondly, given Nonna’s inability to remember factual details which occured two night before, I believe her credibility is shot. (side note: I find it ironic that she can remember all the words to the songs she sang when she was in fifth grade but can’t remember the conversations we had with her two days before – then again, she did go to fifth grade three times). Finally, after doing a little research, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke pose different theories about whether Joseph and Mary were married at the time of Jesus’ Birth.
So, while Nonna may have tarnished her credibility, given the contradiction between the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, I trust the Gospel of Nonna.
God Bless on You everyone.
(and very merry belated Christmas)