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When I was a primary school head teacher, the build up to Christmas

seemed to go on for ever. Preparations usually began in October,

immediately after half-term, when the children started learning carols

and auditioning for parts in the play. By the end of term, I had sung

endless carols, attended numerous plays and met Father Christmas at

least half a dozen times!

The story we present in school rightly centres around the nativity scene. We all

love to see Mary and Joseph, the angels and the wise men, the shepherds and

the sheep. However, we tend to gloss over the more difficult episodes in the


I imagine there must have been a fair amount of anxiety as Joseph and

Mary journeyed to Bethlehem. The baby could have been born at any

moment, they had no idea where they would stay, and they must have been

tired, hungry and cold. I guess there would have been moments when they

wondered if it might have been wiser to have stayed in Nazareth, at least until

the baby was born.

Once Jesus was born, they had to flee to Egypt, another taxing journey and this

time to an unknown country. As refugees, they had to find somewhere to call

home and Joseph needed to get a job. They had to settle into a community and

get used to the customs and culture. They had to stay for an unknown period,

until Herod died, before they were safe to return to Nazareth. How long would

that be?

On that first Christmas, Mary and Joseph triumphed over adversity, but it wasn't

without stress, anxiety and no doubt a fair bit of worry. Unfortunately, Christmas

remains a stressful time for many families today. It is the time when marriages

break, domestic abuse rises, financial debts increase, and the lonely feel their

sadness more acutely than ever.

Thankfully, there are some tremendous people and organisations across King's

Lynn who work selflessly to help those in adversity. To you, in particular, I wish

a very blessed and happy Christmas.