December 23, 2021

Seraphina - Mistress of the House by Joylene M Bailey


That does it, now I've seen everything. It's not enough that our rooms are full to the rafters. Now this Roman senator, Marcus Metellus, has barged in, demanding the best room in the house. Benjamin told him we were full, but the loudmouth doesn't listen. He ordered his servant boy to carry in carpets and tapestries, to the room at the top of the house. I believe he was called Julius. The poor boy looks half starved. And oy, that ragged tunic! 

Well, what can we do? When a Roman Senator commands, we must bow and obey. I'm sure our leaders could have handled this census on our own. But no, they must constantly check up on us. 

I tell you though, when I saw young Julius cower as Marcus's hand raised to strike him, I stepped in. Yes, I did. Senator or no senator. I received a dark look from Mr. High and Mighty for my impertinence, oh yes I did. But I didn't back down. The poor motherless boy!

Now, Abigail, quick run up and kindly ask Jacob to move his family in with Efren, Ruth and their children. Ach, so crowded they will be! But they will understand. I'm sure they've heard the commotion.

My daughter, Abigail. She is obedient and kind. Such a help to me, though she is only ten. And to have your help now too, Miriam. I cannot thank you enough. Will you make the dough for six more loaves? There are eight in the oven, but we'll need more now that his highness has arrived.

And the stew ... well it will have to stretch. Mmmm ... it is tasty!

To think I didn't even know I had a relative named Miriam until three days ago. Such unexpected times. Two other relatives showed up some weeks past: Joseph from Nazareth and his young wife Mary, who is now heavy with child. She is due any time, poor child. I could not turn them away, and gave them my best guest room, but as more relatives arrived, I've had to move the two of them to make room for nine more. And so, they've ended up in the cleanest corner of the stable. I see I'll have to find another stable corner for young Julius.

Oy! Look at the poor boy, his arms the size of my broom handle. And why does he insist on wearing that ratty cloak about his neck? He keeps tripping on it.


Levi! Help Julius carry his load up those stairs, now!

I have no idea where my other sons are. Thankfully, Levi is always hanging about.

Here, Miriam, set aside a bowl of stew and half a loaf for young Julius before we serve his lordship, for I'm quite sure he is not a sharing sort of man.

Now, I'm going to set a pot of water to heat. That young Julius needs a good scrubbing, and I think Levi can do with one less tunic. 


Miriam, there you are. Thank you for cleaning up and getting things ready for tomorrow. It will get busy before sunrise.

I tell you, getting young Julius washed up was a chore. In the end, he was glad to be clean. And he thanked me over and over for the tunic. His ratty cloak, on the other hand. Ach, what a fight! He wouldn't part with it. Apparently, it was his father's, given to the boy as the father lay dying. After all, it's a boy's last memory of his father and so I agreed not to throw it on the dung heap. I washed it instead. What a job that was! And do you know, it wasn't as ratty as I first thought. It's drying there, by the fire.  

And here is where we will put our bedrolls. Yours, mine, and Abigail's. The last bit of space in the house not occupied by sleeping creatures. And that is some noisy sleeping creature on the top floor, is it not?

What's this? Young Julius, what is it?

Oy, oy! Miriam, get up and put a pot of water to boil. Mary's time has come. Abigail, hand me my birthing kit there, then help Miriam tend the fire. Come, Julius. Show me.


Such a sweet baby boy, Miriam. Something quite special about him. Julius kept to his corner until the baby was swaddled and then he couldn't resist holding him. I tell you, that baby has a hold on young Julius. Do you know what he said to me? "I think he loves me." Bless his heart, the poor motherless boy. When I was done cleaning up, I looked up to see that he had covered Mary with his cloak, fresh and dry from the fire. 


They're all sleeping now, even young--Oy!

What's this? Abigail, go get your father. Tell him there are a bunch of ruffians at the door. Shepherds, I think. What on earth are they doing here? They're going to wake the whole household. 

Are we to get no rest tonight?


I was drawn to write this story by two accounts of life around the time Jesus was born. One article described how it would have been more likely that Joseph found shelter with relatives rather than looking for an inn. After all, it was his ancestral home. This led me to research what a house would have looked like back then, and I discovered that the ground level of the house usually housed a small stable, where the family animals were kept. The other article I read theorized that Joseph and Mary actually arrived in Bethlehem some time before the birth of Jesus. They reference Luke 2:6 - While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 

With these thoughts in mind, I started wondering what it would have been like for the mistress of a house during the time of the census. Busy, crowded, and with little choice but to welcome relatives needing shelter. Seraphina (which, incidentally, means fiery) is so busy hosting and mothering in her loving home that she misses the significance of the birth of Jesus. But poor, orphaned, Gentile Julius does not.

Merry Christmas, all!


Featured Photo from Pixabay


  1. Dear Joy, this is absolutely delightful. The following poignant words of yours made me tear up: Do you know what he said to me? "I think he loves me." Bless his heart, the poor motherless boy.

    Jesus does indeed love the little children of the world. No matter their ages or the condition of their cloaks.

    Christmas Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

    1. Thank you Wendy. I think many of us don't recognize that most significant moments don't come with pomp. They happen in just that - a moment, amidst the ordinary busyness of life. The secret is to watch for the moments. Children are good at that.

  2. Joy, I do love your story--it's both tender and humorous--as it unfolds from Seraphina's viewpoint. A totally plausible explanation of how Joseph and Mary ended up in the stable of the overflowing inn. Already I have a soft spot for young Julius.

    1. Dear Julius. I have a soft spot for him too. He is where this story began, even before Seraphina came into the picture.

  3. What a fun take on the story. I never would have thought of it. I could just hear her talking! You did such a great job of creating her character!

  4. Oy Joy! You created a truly great story. I agree with Wendy about the line: Do you know what he said to me? "I think he loves me." Bless his heart, the poor motherless boy. The line is gold! Julius knew exactly what he was talking about. Thank you for this wonderful trip back to the birth of Jesus. Blessings to you, Joy. Merry Christmas!

  5. Thanks Alan. Yes, Julius knew. Children seem to capture those moments don't they? Merry Christmas to you too!

  6. What an entertaining and heartwarming take on the Christmas story, Joy! I could just see Seraphina bustling about taking care of everyone in her crowded inn. But the most touching was the character of Julius. I think we are all like Julius, coming in our ragged cloaks to the manger to discover He loves us too.


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