It was here towards the back in the old Catholic area of the Slaughter House where our Christmas legends and truths of Klong Toey began. It was here that the parents taught children their prayers and each Christmas, every child learned again of our Christmas legends and truths. “Back in the day.”
Long ago, a very poor couple came into the village. They were strangers to all. The lady, beautiful and radiant, rode in a wooden-wheel cart with her husband leading the cart's oxen. She was nine months pregnant, but she appeared to be happy and serene, smiling at everyone. Her husband asked permission from the village elder to enter and visit the church. The husband's accent sounded foreign and no one could identify its origin.
The husband said that he and his wife were on their way to a small town called Bethlehem. He thought he could get good directions from the church. Said his name was Joseph; his pregnant wife was Mary. He spoke of how angels, shepherds and fishermen would one day soon become disciples, and of how there would be much joy, but also suffering.
His wife, he explained, was destined to give birth in Bethlehem. And this birth would be to the Son of God.
Could the village please help? They needed to hurry up and be on their way. The village elder didn't know the way to Bethlehem, but he offered food. During those few minutes, he said he had just witnessed something mystical and beautiful. It was a blazing light. Just the sight of it made him kneel and ask Joseph and Mary for their blessing.
They would leave their oxen and ox cart behind, there by the church, where everyone knew all would be safe. After the child – the Son of God - was born, Joseph and Mary said they would be back.
Still unsure of their way, they saw a Star in the East that they knew to follow. They asked the village elder for a riverboat to the city. It would be quicker and more convenient. The elder said he didn’t know of these legends and truths, but his brother worked in the city's Slaughter House. It was by the port. He would secure a riverboat for the two-hour trip.
Baby Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem, a double-triple long time ago, not far from our Klong Toey Slum. Or maybe this birth was closer still, right there under the old railroad bridge. If so, our Slaughter House women would not have allowed Pregnant Mary to stay above the pigpens. Under the railroad bridge, not far from the temple, would have been far more proper.
Our legends and truths say the Baby Jesus was born in a stable. And, yes, maybe that much is true. But the old folks here say the baby was born under the narrow gauge railway. And, if that's what you believe, that’s okay too.
Our kids never saw Baby Jesus nor his Mum, Holy Mary. But the grand mum of one of our boys recalls how her grand mum once said
If you close your eyes and then look towards the evening sky you can see Mary holding Baby Jesus and Joseph leading the cart among the stars.