Joseph was a simple man. Quiet and sensible, he always saw the best in others. As he was unable to hurt a fly, he assumed everybody was like him.
Most people in the village respected him, but there were a few who thought him spineless.
He was hardworking. Most mornings, he would be in his workshop by six, making a new table or fixing a door.
One could say he was content with his lot, but then one day his life changed for the better.
For a couple of months, he had been admiring a beautiful girl from afar, a girl called Mary who was a few years younger than him. He wanted to ask her to be his girlfriend, but suspected she was too good for him.
So time went past, and he kept on dreaming of her, but then one sunny Friday, he looked up and there she was. In his workshop, no less.
‘Good morning,’ she said. It was the first time he had heard her speak and he was struck by her velvety voice.
‘Morning,’ he stammered.
‘I was wondering if you could fix this chair for me. The leg is wobbly.’
‘Of course. Just take a seat. It will be ready in no time.’
Mary watched him while he worked and told him about herself. She was so easy to talk to that he quickly forgot how nervous he had been when she first arrived.
That day was the beginning of a great friendship. The people in the village noticed the change in Joseph. He seemed a lot happier, full of energy and enthusiasm.
One hot afternoon, they were sitting by the well, eating pears and talking about the weather, when Mary said, ‘Do you want to get married?’
Joseph was about to choke on his pear. He blushed and remained quiet for a while.
‘And do you want to have children?’
‘Yes, you know I love kids.’
‘So why don’t you ask me to marry you?’
‘I thought you would say no.’
‘Silly man. Why don’t you give it a try?’
‘Will you marry me, Mary?’
‘Of course I will,’ she said and kissed him on the cheek.
They decided to wait two months to have time to get everything ready. As they were so young, they were not in a very big hurry.
Joseph was so happy he felt he didn’t walk. He floated. But then one day something terrible happened.
He was about to close his workshop for the day, when Mary arrived looking flustered. Her usually tidy hair was in disarray and her cheeks were red.
‘What’s wrong, dear?’
‘I need to talk to you.’
Joseph felt a pang of fear compress his chest.
‘Are you going to leave me? Have you found a better man?’
‘Nooo! What are you talking about? I’m … I’m pregnant.’
‘What? How’s that possible? We haven’t…’
‘I know. But you have to trust me and you have to believe what I’m going to tell you.’
‘Okay. I’ll do my best.’
Mary explained how an angel had visited her that morning and had told her she was going to have a son. She explained he had said her son would save the world.
‘So his name was Gabriel, you say?’
‘Yes, but that’s not very important, is it? Are you even listening to me?’
Joseph sat down. He wiped his sweaty forehead with his sleeve.
‘This is a lot to take in…’
‘I’ll understand if you decide to leave me.’
‘What? I love you and I’ll love your baby. Besides, I’m an insignificant man and all of a sudden you’ve turned me into an essential part of history. Come here.’