Anybody else having a stressful Christmas? A good friend of mine wrote and told me his dad had to be put in a home because of declining health. Presently, there's an extra kid in the house because (very long story short) her grandma who is her guardian needs to do some Christmas shopping. And then there is my day job. Lots of fun stuff going on there.
Christmas is coming. I consider a couple of thousand years ago a conversation which may have taken place:
Mary: Joe, I just don't think I'm up for this trip. My back is killing me.
Joseph: I can't leave you here alone, and I have to go. Caesar has this crazy census going on.
Mary: Did you make reservations? I'm afraid it will be so crowded in Bethlehem.
Joseph: Oh, darn it. I knew there was something I forgot to do.
So, here is a woman in labor about to ride a donkey or walk to Bethlehem. Once there, she and Joe find the Best Western without any vacancies. There is no epidural. Heck, there's not even a bed.
In spite of the bad timing and the less than ideal accommodations, Christmas comes. The baby is born.
Tomorrow everything shuts down. Kroger is closing in just over an hour and will not open again until December 26th. Wal-Mart also has this one day out of the year in which the closed sign hangs on the door. I've heard this question over and over again: Are you ready for Christmas? Well, ready or not, it is nearly here. For one day all of the people who serve us at restaurants and the grocery stores and the gas stations will have a respite. In fact, the only places still open for business will be the hospitals, the fire and police stations. Even our newspaper is getting its one day off. I made sure that our gas tank is full and there is a full gallon of milk in the frig. Somehow, I doubt we will starve in the time between 6 p.m. tonight and 6 a.m. Friday morning. There is an uneasiness, though, in knowing I absolutely will not be able to buy batteries or bread. But there's a thankfulness, too. That even if other people are calling it something else, it is still Jesus' birthday. And most people who work very hard every other day of the year will receive yet another gift in honor of J.C. A day off.
I hope those who do have to work tomorrow know how grateful I am for their gift to their community. May you also have an extra day of respite.
Merry, merry Christmas, you wonderful world. And, Jesus, I hope you have a very happy birthday. I'm trying to keep plenty of oil in my lamp.