PostScripts from Blessing

The official blog of author Lauraine Snelling and the fictional town of Blessing, North Dakota

The Lonely Donkey-- Part Four

That night Donkey observed a strange thing in the stable. A man in shining white clothing stood before Joseph and said to him, "Thou must rise and flee from this place tonight, for Herod is seeking to kill your son, Jesus. Leave this country immediately and go to Egypt. There he cannot find you." Donkey blinked his eyes and the stranger was gone. He was astonished. Who was the man and where did he go? Was Joseph really going to believe him? Apparently he was for Joseph began packing the linen and waking Mary and the baby.

Quickly he saddled Donkey and lifted Mary to his back. Then he bent and tenderly picked the baby up and handed him to Mary. Donkey was thrilled from the tips of his long ears to the hard curves of his tiny hooves. Besides taking Mary, which he was very glad to do, he also got to carry the baby Jesus. No longer did he have to stand in the stable and just admire him, now he was going to do something for him. He was going to carry him to Egypt to save his life.

Joseph and Donkey walked rapidly through the streets of Bethlehem. The stars were very bright in the sky, especially a large bright star that seemed very near to the earth, and always shone before them. The wise men had mentioned a star, maybe it was the same one. Anyway, Donkey hoped so.

Very soon this little group reached the top of the hill near Bethlehem. Joseph stopped a moment to get his breath and Donkey looked around. Everything was quiet and peaceful up here. His heart was calm, and Donkey realized something he had not noticed for a long time. Of all things, when he looked at Mary and Joseph together; here he was, all by himself, and he hadn’t been lonesome at all. Not the least little tiny bit. Come to think of it, he hadn’t been lonesome since the night the family came to Bethlehem. That was the very night little Jesus was born.

Donkey turned his head and looked at the baby in Mary’s arms. Jesus again seemed to smile right at him. Donkey would have smiled back, if only he had known how to smile. He loved the Christ Child with all his heart and you know, he knew he would never be lonesome again, now that the wonderful baby had come into his life.

The end, or is it just the beginning?

The Lonely Donkey-- Part Three

"I'm very sorry," said the inn keeper, "but I just don't have any rooms left. It seems as if all of Judea is coming to Bethlehem. But wait, I have a small clean stable. I beg your forgiveness for not offering something better, but my rooms are full. If it will be of any help, please stay there for the night."

"Thank you very much," said Joseph, "we will be happy to stay there. Please can you find us some blankets or something? Mary must have a place to lay."

The inn keeper brought some blankets and led the way to the stable. He showed them into a small room with several animals. Donkey stepped gently over the threshold and stood gazing around. This would just have to do since there was no better place. Joseph spread the blankets, then lifted Mary from Donkey’s back to them. Then he led Donkey over to the wall and unsaddled him.

A little while later Donkey heard some strange sounds coming from the other side of the stable. It sounded like a child crying, but no, that was impossible. Very slowly he walked over to the manger and, lo and behold, there wrapped in shining white linen lay a beautiful baby. Donkey had never seen a baby before but even if he had, he'd have known this was someone special.

The baby lay there with a radiant glow surrounding him. Donkey was enchanted. He had never seen anything so beautiful, so precious. Joseph came over to Donkey and patted him. The doves in the rafters cooed gently and the tiny baby closed his eyes.

"He's sleeping now," said Mary.

Donkey didn’t know what to do. Never before in his life had he felt such a sense of peace. Everything was all right. Mary was comfortable, Joseph was happy and this baby seemed to glorify everything around him.

This was no longer a rude stable, but a magnificent palace and Donkey was very happy and proud to be part of the scene.

Mary picked the baby up in her arms and looked at Donkey. "His name is Jesus," she said. Jesus smiled and Donkey almost smiled too. Just then they heard a tap on the door. Joseph hurried to open it and there was a group of shepherds.

One of the shepherds asked of Joseph, "Have you a tiny baby here, lying in a manger?"

"Why, yes," replied Joseph. "He was born just this evening. Come in and see him if you will."

"Thank you," replied the shepherds, and they came into the stable to see and admire the baby. Donkey stood back and watched the shepherds. They too thought the baby was unusual. They said, "The angels visited us this night and told us to come, visit the King, here in a stable in Bethlehem. This baby is the King of the Jews."

Donkey’s eyes began to shine. Everything was so wonderful. Here in this small stable lay a beautiful baby, the King of the Jews.

The shepherds soon left and Donkey could hear them singing for joy. He was so happy, he almost wished he could sing as the shepherds were doing. He stepped forward again, just to peek at the beautiful baby. Will wonders never cease? The baby looked right at him. Donkey shyly looked back and right then, he knew he loved the baby with all his donkey devotion. Nothing would be this perfect again. Donkey sighed a deep sigh and Joseph softly stroked his neck.

A few nights later Donkey was quietly dozing in a corner when he heard someone knocking at the stable. Standing in the doorway were three magnificently dressed men. They had long costly robes, crowns on their heads and each had a present in his hands.

"Is this where a baby was born?" one of them asked. "For we have seen his star in the east and have come to worship him. The star led us all the way from a far country and then came to rest over this rude stable. The babe is to be a great King. Please, may we see him?"

"Yes," said Joseph. "Come right this way."

The wise men walked into the room and bent over the manager. The three worshiped the small baby for a few moments, then each laid his present at the feet of the Christ Child. One was gold, another was a rich perfume and the last a spicy oil; all Kingly gifts. After praising the child a bit more, they left.

Mary looked at Donkey as if to say, see Donkey this, our baby, is well blessed and will be loved by many. And Donkey agreed with her. How could anyone not love this precious infant?

* * *

Look for the final installment Dec. 30

December 21, 1902 - A Note from Ingeborg

Ah, my dear friends,

I had thought to have this finished last week, but somehow the days slipped away. It has been very cold here in Blessing, making us thankful that Haakan and Lars were forward thinking enough to fill the walls of our houses with sawdust to help keep out the North wind that blows so fiercely. Right now as I look out my kitchen window, the snow is so bright with diamonds cast by the sun, I cannot look for long without rubbing my eyes.

But we are warm and snug here. Astrid is hurrying to finish a pair of mittens she is knitting for her Pa so I have to warn her if I see him coming. I love all the secrets of Christmas as we each make the presents we will give on Christmas Day. Most of them are already under the tree that the men went east into Minnesota to cut in the woods. They took the sledge with four up and brought back trees for all those from Blessing who wanted them. The stack was head high and the horses seemed to be having fun trotting back home with their harness bells jingling and people laughing.

Ah, how I love Christmas. So far we have made lefse, krumkake, fattigman, doughnuts, gingerbread cookies, and today we will heat the kettle of lard up again to make rosettes. I sprinkle powdered sugar over them to make the light designs even more lovely.

As Thorliff reminded me, this might be the last Christmas we are all together for Astrid might not be able to leave her nurse's training next December to come home. I force myself to do as Paul says in his epistles, to take every thought captive to the will of God. I know my heavenly Father doesn’t want me worrying about next year, but instead to be rejoicing in this year, this day, this hour. Sometimes this has to be a minute by minute thing, this not worrying.

So, today, right now, I remind myself to be thankful in all things. Today is easier than some with the good smells of julekake, my Christmas bread, coming from the oven, along with a kettle of apple cider I have heated with cinnamon sticks, nutmeg and my secret ingredient, a bit of allspice and honey. The fragrance is enough to make one drool.

We won't light the candles we’ve clipped to the branches of our tree, we had a candle dipping party two days ago and the young people gathered here to make popcorn balls last night. I laughed so hard when they were pulling taffy and teasing each other about being the best pullers.

Thorliff has again written the program for the children to present tomorrow night at the church. There is a surprise of some kind for he would not let me read the script. I rejoice every year when we sing the song we wrote those many years ago for one of our first programs. Ah, the memories. Christmas is such a good time for remembering how much God has blessed us. I wish that for each of you. Remember His goodness and rejoice in the gift of our savior who is Christ the Lord.

God Jule to each and everyone of you.

With love and joy,


The Lonely Donkey-- Part Two

By Laurie Clauson

The next morning when he saw Joseph, he brayed a great l-o-n-g bray to tell Joseph how glad he was to see him. Joseph tickled his long ears, then brushed his long, shaggy coat. Donkey was so happy he could hardly stand still. When Joseph saddled him, he nearly kicked up his heels for joy. Carrying Mary would keep him from being lonely.

They left the small inn and the road stretched before them like an unending ribbon. They traveled along at Donkey’s slow pace and hardly anyone saw them. They were just people traveling along the road to Judea.

For several days the same pace continued. They started early in the morning, at lunch at noon and stopped at an inn for the night. Every night it was the same way. The tired little donkey would begin thinking of home and get so very homesick and so very lonely that a big tear would splash off the end of his nose into the straw.

All three travelers were getting tired and dusty, but especially Mary. Joseph and Donkey tried everything they could think of to make the ride easier but nothing helped much at all.

Poor Donkey felt terrible about it. He tried walking slower but then it took longer to get from place to place. So instead he walked on the tips of his hooves to cushion the ride. Mary seldom smiled now, but she was never so tired that she forgot to pet Donkey and praise him. Donkey wanted so much to help but there was nothing at all he could do. Joseph too was worried. Deep lines began to show on his face. He was so worried about Mary but he never said a cross word to patient Donkey.

Then one evening Joseph was happy again. "We will reach Bethlehem tonight,"he said. Mary managed to smile back at him and Donkey almost brayed for joy. Now everything would be alright.

This time they didn’t stop when the sun went down. Instead they traveled by moonlight. When they came over a small hill they saw, spread out below them, the twinkling lights of Bethlehem. Donkey lifted his hooves high as they plodded down into the town. Now they would find a bed for Mary. The town seemed to be awfully crowded. There were people everywhere, even this late in the evening.

At the first inn they saw, Joseph knocked on the door and asked, "Have you a room we can rent? My wife is very tired and must have a place to stay."

"I’m very sorry,"said the inn keeper, "but all my rooms are filled. Perhaps you can find a room down the street."

"Thank you," said Joseph and he turned away to walk further down the street. He knocked at another door a little way down the street but again the inn keeper replied, "I'm sorry, but all my rooms are filled."

Joseph and Donkey with Mary on his back, walked all over Bethlehem but no one had room for them. All the inns were filled. Donkey was getting angry. There must have been room in one of the inns. Mary needed to rest so desperately. They must find a place to stay.

Joseph was heart-broken but he tried not to let Mary know. She was so tired that she could hardly stay on Donkey’s back. Donkey began walking down the last street. At the end was a small, run-down inn with a light in the window. The trio slowly plodded down toward the light. Joseph knocked and the door opened.

"Please, sir, have you any room left in your inn at all? My wife is becoming very ill and must have a place to stay. We have been traveling all for days to come and pay our taxes. You must take us in."

"I'm very sorry," said the inn keeper, "but I just don't have any rooms left. It seems as if all of Judea is coming to Bethlehem. But wait, I have a small clean stable. I beg your forgiveness for not offering something better, but my rooms are full. If it will be of any help, please stay there for the night."

* * * *

Stop back next week for part three of The Lonely Donkey

The Lonely Donkey-- Part One

Dear Readers,

It is my pleasure to present The Lonely Donkey by Laurie Clauson, our first serialized story in The Blessing Gazette.

Miss Clauson, sixteen years of age, is a new student at Blessing School and dreams of becoming a writer.

Thorliff Bjorklund
Editor, Blessing Gazette


The Lonely Donkey


Laurie Clauson

Sixteen years old

Part One of Four

One day long ago in the land of Herod, a little donkey slowly wandered around the field. He stood under a tree for awhile, but he was lonesome there. He waded into the small creek for a bit, but still he was terribly lonesome. Nothing at all seemed to ease his lonely heart.

Suddenly Donkey pricked his long, floppy ears. Had he heard something? Yes, it was his master calling. Maybe there would be an adventure, someone who would keep him from being lonely.

"Come, Donkey, here, Donkey," called the master.

Donkey trotted up to the gate and hung his head over the bars. "Hee haw," brayed Donkey. "I am here."

Master walked over to the gate, deep in conversation with a strange man. Donkey looked at him curiously. He looked like a kind, friendly man.

"See," said Master, "Donkey isn’t really very large but he is very strong and sturdy. He would suit your purpose well."

Donkey jerked his head. They were speaking of him. He switched his tail happily at the compliment.

"Yes," said the stranger, "I think he will do." And with that, the stranger counted three gold pieces into Master’s hand.

Master went to the stable and got a soft halter. He fitted it on to Donkey’s head, handed the rope to the stranger and gave Donkey a farewell slap on the rump. "He’s yours now, I know he will do his best for you." Master walked away.

Donkey stood and stared at the stranger in a puzzled way. What had Master done?

The stranger looked at Donkey and saw the bewilderment on Donkey’s long, lonely face. "You belong to me now," said the stranger. "My name is Joseph and soon you will meet Mary. You will love her, Donkey. I bought you because we must go on a long journey. You will carry Mary to Bethlehem."

Donkey brightened considerably. Here was an adventure and someone to keep him from being lonely.

So Joseph took the reins and Donkey followed him quite willingly, over the hill, into the City of Nazereth. They walked slowly through the streets so that Donkey could see all the hustle and bustle of the market place, and watch the caravans come into the city. All this rush was so new to Donkey that soon he was quite happy to be on a small, quiet street, pacing down the cobblestones.

"Soon we’ll be home, Donkey," said Joseph.

They turned a corner and entered a small courtyard. There was a tree in the middle and a cozy stable to one side. A young woman came out of the door on the other side and walked quickly toward them.

"Mary," said Joseph, "this is Donkey. He will carry you to Bethlehem."

Mary rubbed a favorite spot behind Donkey’s long, floppy ears. "Welcome home," she said. And Donkey knew he would like it here with these people. Donkey grew to like it in the courtyard just as he knew he would. Everyday Mary would bring him a carrot and tickled his ears for awhile. He wasn’t quite so lonely anymore.

The one day Joseph and Mary bustled around the home, packing things, closing the house and saying goodbye to friends. Donkey remembered this, "you are going to take Mary to Bethlehem" and he was very, very happy.

Early the next morning, before the sun even up, the three of them left Nazareth on the long trip to Bethlehem. The morning air was cool and Donkey wanted to prance along the road. The only reason he walked was because he wanted Mary to have a smooth ride. Every once in a while, Mary would lean forward and rub his neck. Donkey was very proud to be carrying her on his back.

At noon the travelers stopped and had dinner. Donkey walked sedately to a near-by spring and had a drink. Then he nibbled some lush grass. Everything was fine and peaceful but even still, Donkey was lonesome. Mary and Joseph were together but he was all by himself.

Joseph soon saddled him up again and placed Mary on his back. He gave Donkey a reassuring pat and off they went. The afternoon trek was long and uneventful. The travelers were hot and thirsty but no one complained.

That evening when they stopped for the night, Donkey was dusty and tired. He wished a bit for the cool running stream in his old pasture. When he began remembering, he began to get lonely. The more he thought, the lonelier he got. Things just got too much for poor, little Donkey and a big tear rolled down his long, sad face. It dropped off the end of his soft nose and fell into the straw.


Stop back next week for Part Two of The Lonely Donkey!

November 1902- A Note from Ingeborg

"Giving thanks always for all things to God." Ephesians 5:20

My dear friends,

I cannot believe how quickly Fall is flying past. Why it seems like just yesterday I was canning string beans and now we are thanking our heavenly Father for all He has provided. Come along with me and let's take a walk through my root cellar, I can't tell you how much I enjoy doing that.

Haakan dug this one when we built this new house. Before that we had the one near the soddy but the big flood of 1897 filled that one with debris and we didn't bother to dig it out again. Be careful you don’t bump your head on that beam as we go down the stairs. By the way, we have an outside cellar door also so we can cart root crops down in the wheelbarrow.

See all the jars of fruit and vegetables we put by this year? I call them my jewels. I'm sorry you can't see the colors as well with this lantern, but the beets--both canned and pickled--are a glorious deep red, as are the berry jams and jellies and some of my applesauce is pink due to the red skins of the apples. Over here in the crocks I have pickles covered with horseradish leaves to help keep them crisp; sausage patties sealed in lard, and pickled crabapples in the last.

We filled the barrels with apples alternating with layers of straw so one bad apple doesn't spoil the whole barrel as the old adage goes. Over here against the wall in the bins, we have stored the carrots, rutabagas and turnips in sand, the potatoes are covered with gunny sacks and a tarp to keep out the light so they won’t turn green nor sprout quite so quickly. Uff da, the time it took to dig all the crops. If you don't duck, you'll bump into the hams and bacon Haakan has smoked. He has more hanging out in the smokehouse, not finished yet. The spekekjøtt was dried up in the barn all summer. We sliced the dried mutton nearly as thin as paper.

Oh, those bags you see hanging from the beams? Those are dried shelled beans and dried shelled corn, along with dried onions. We hang them to let the air circulate. I know this looks like a lot right now, but by spring all this will be pretty much used up. I remember the days when we were mighty hungry come spring, and the first greens to be found were dandelion leaves. While they were a necessity then, they still remain a good spring tonic.

Mange takk for letting me show off the results of our labors. Now let's go upstairs and have a cup of coffee so we can catch up on all the wonderful things God has been doing in our lives. He says to live a life of praise. We have so much to be thankful for and one of my thank yous is that you came by.

Your friend,