“If you are traveling this holiday season, make your destination a Bethlehem.”
I heard this advice in church last weekend. Since I spent much of the service trying to prevent Henry from crawling beneath the seat in front of us and/or helping Lizzie use spit and an old Kleenex to wipe marker off of the hymnal she had used to draw Santa on horseback, I am amazed that I heard and retained anything at all. A mini-Christmas miracle.
But I love this advice. If you are at all like me, and you have had the wonderful opportunity/misfortune to travel frequently during the holidays, you know the joy/horror of staying with family and friends. There are five of us now. And a dog. And even though we try to be gracious and helpful houseguests — zipping to the grocery store, chipping in with laundry and dishes — we still require lots of food and pillows and toilet paper. That we are inconvenient to host is a fact not lost on me.
But it is also not always easy to be hosted. I ate snails for dinner last night. Lunch today was something coated in mayonnaise and cheese. Right now, I feel like curling up with cocoa and a book, but instead, I need to dress for dinner guests. In short, when it comes to visitors during the holidays, the stress goes both ways.
I don’t always know what I believe about Christmas. Was He or was he not the son of God? Smarter folks than I have tried to suss this one out. But I do know this: two-thousand years ago, weary travelers found refuge one night, made the best of unfamiliar circumstances, and their child grew up to be a gift to many, many people.
May we who host, and may we who are hosted, be Bethlehems to one another this holiday season. May we offer comfort and make do, since we never quite know the miracle unfolding in the hearts of our children or in one another.