Have yourself a messy little Christmas… No, I didn’t make a typo, but did an intentional rewrite of the first line of the Sam Smith song.
The first Christmas was not all neat and pretty like my beautiful Thomas Kinkade Nativity display. For Mary and Joseph it was noisy, stressful, and painful. Traveling the 70 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem (Joseph’s tribal village) to register for the Roman ordered census was not an easy feat. The several day trip with the heavily pregnant Mary riding on a donkey must have been an ordeal. As Joseph walked beside her he was confronted with guiding them along a treacherous and rugged uphill and downhill path. In the late fall and early winter, the weather would have been very cold and rainy with no roadside inns to protect them from the harsh conditions. They also faced the possibility of wild animals, bandits, and robbers looking for easy prey.
The hope for a comfortable room at the inn at the end of the long journey did not materialize. Instead, they found themselves in a stable that housed noisy, smelly animals. The cold, quiet night was interrupted by Mary’s cries during her painful labor as she delivered her first born son. Joseph had to lend a helping hand before the parents and baby fell into an exhausted sleep.
Their rest was soon interrupted by a heavenly choir, angels, and a visit from neighboring shepherds who were the first to witness the newborn babe. What a glorious and not so silent night it must have been.
When King Herod learned of the birth of the King of the Jews from the wise men, Joseph & Mary fled with the infant to Egypt to escape the mandate by the King that all boys under the age of two were to be slaughtered. There was definitely no peace on earth for Jesus or anyone else in Judea during that traumatic time.
It seems every year the month of December brings messy challenges to those of us who hope to experience a Norman Rockwell or Hallmark Christmas. Weather problems delay travel and can cause cancellations of long-awaited reunions. A White Christmas can mean a disaster here in Georgia with roads too treacherous for travel. We spent most of the past weekend driving around in rainy, cold weather to fulfill some planned commitments. We were glad for a warm house at the end of the day.
Nasty viruses and the flu come to call more easily this time of year. All the hugs and well wishes can mean more colds and bronchitis. Eating right and lots of sleep can help, but it is no guarantee we will escape.
Family issues seem to predominate this time of year. Work hours, distance, and finances often keep our family from enjoying a stress free holiday. It seems impossible to make a plan and stick to it.
Yes, things can get messy, but after writing about the difficulties of the first Christmas, I am much more thankful for all the blessings I enjoy. I will be grateful for all the beautiful messy things that Christmas brings my way.