I tend to think of Jesus’ birth narratives as family stories. Once you get through the genealogy in Matthew, the tale is told from Joseph’s perspective. Joseph is visited by an angel. Joseph has dreams. Joseph moves the family to Egypt and back.
Luke focuses on the maternal line. Mary is visited by an angel. Mary goes to see her relative Elizabeth. Mary gives birth, wraps the child in swaddling clothes, and lays him in a manger.
Birthdays in my family inevitably lead to stories. I was born on my father’s second day of student teaching. When it was time for Mom to head to the hospital for my sister’s birth, I was sent me down the hill to stay with friends of theirs. When my brother was born, Dad handed out tootsie roll pops to his students.
Looking at this family reunion photo, I remember that we are family by birth, by marriage, by legal adoption, and by informal adoption (a foster child become daughter and sister). Grandma Mary is the matriarch pictured, but I knew her mother – Great Grandma Grace. Of those not in the picture, I recall my Aunt Marlene who died too young (alcoholism is insidious) as well as Grandpa Art (life ending heart attack).
The family tree has changed in ten years. Marriage. Divorce. More great-grandchildren. Grandma Mary thinks she might live to be 100. In the meantime she never misses a birthday; no matter how you made into the family you get a birthday card and a $20 bill!