IN THE SPIRIT OF THE SEASON, I thought I would share my column space with my wife's cousin, Bobo Herring, who is from Traphill over in Wilkes County up in the Brushy Mountains. Bobo likes to tell the Nativity Story.
Now here's the story how the Baby Jesus got to be the Baby Jesus. His momma, Mary Lee, was plannin' to marry Uncle Joe, but they weren't hitched yet when Mary Lee found out she was in a fam'ly way, even though she hadn't been messin' 'round with Joe — nor anybody fer that matter. Mary Lee tolt Ol' Joe about it and he was kindly notioned enough not to want to make a spectacle of it all and thought maybe he would send her quiet-like back home to her fam'ly.
But that was 'fore Uncle Joe had a dream where an angel appear'd to him, sayin', "Brother Joe, don't be a-feared to take that little woman for thy lawfully wedded wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost, and thou shalt call that baby Jesus, 'cause that's who he's gonna be." (Angels, they talk like that.)
And came to be 'bout that same time, a call went up outta Raleigh that ever'body oughta be counted and taxed. So, ever' fam'ly had to go back to their home place to pay their tab. So, ol' Uncle Joe packed up from Robeson County down Lumberton way and drove over to Mecklenburg to the city of Charlotte ('cause he was of uptown folks) in his Pinto, so he could pay his taxes. And Mary Lee, his wife-to-be, was 'bout fit to bust. While they was up to Charlotte, Mary Lee had that young'un, her firstest one. It was a cold December, so she wrapped that boy up in shop towels, and lay him in a tool chest in the garage where they was sheltered, 'cause the motels were all full up.
Just outside the city limits, there were mechanics rummagin' through a junkyard that night, when a light came a-shinin' on them, and they were sorely a-feared. But then a voice said to them: "Do not be a-feared! This here is good news we's a-bringin' you and all the folks, 'cause today, in the Queen City of the South, a chile's been born, which is gonna turn out to be Jesus, the Lord of the Whole Universe. If'n you don't believe us, just wait, 'cause when you see the little rascal he'll be layin' in a tool box all wrapped up in grease rags."
Then, pow! there was a whole choir a-voices a-singin' and a-sayin': "Glory here! Glory there! Glory be to God up in the air! Peace be to men! Good will ever'where! Glory be to God up in the air!"
But just as quick as that choir showed up, they was gone. And them mechanics looked smack at one 'nother and said, all right at the same time: "Let's go up to Charlotte and see what in heaven's name they is talkin' 'bout." They went a-speedin' into town in Zeb's Mustang and found Mary Lee and Uncle Joe in a garage and the little baby layin' in a toolbox all wrapped up in grease rags, just like that choir tolt'em. Zeb and Zeke and all the rest of them mechanics was fit to be tied what with all they had seen, and was tellin' ever'body they bumped into what the choir tolt'em and that Baby Jesus was in that garage shed just like they said.
A little later and little bit further down the road, three sharp-witted fellers from down east came lookin' for the Baby Jesus. First thing them sharp fellers did was cruise up to Raleigh in their Expedition to the history museum and ask where a Baby King Jesus oughta be born, and they was a-tolt that Charlotte was the royal city 'round these parts. So, these fellers follered the highway 'til they got down to Charlotte and found Mary Lee and Joe livin' in a mill house with Joe's kin. Those sharp fellers gave the baby gifts from Goldsboro, Franklinton and Murfreesboro, and worshipped him like he was the Baby Jesus, Son of God and Saver of Ever'body.
So, thanks be to Mary Lee and ol' Uncle Joe and the lil' Baby Jesus, that's how we get to have Christmas.
Gary D. Gaddy wishes all his readers a Merry Christmas!
A version of this story was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Friday December 24, 2010.
Copyright 2010 Gary D. Gaddy