I have been uncharacteristically Grinch-like this holiday season. I was thinking it was perhaps the pregnancy hormones but I have noticed many others having similar feelings. We are all feeling pinched by holiday pressure. Feeling pulled in many different directions like taffy. I was grumpy and complaining about having to travel to so many different places, to please so many different people, that we would not have time for our own family celebration of Christmas. I was unhappy about the discomfort, no matter how welcoming a place is, of not sleeping in our own home. Especially when I will be halfway through a pregnancy, sleeping with four people and one dog in one room. Grumpy and unhappy may, in fact, be an understatement.
I found myself talking similar feelings over with friends and pondering, “Why can’t Christmas ever just be about Jesus?!?!” Then it was time to put the boys to bed and just about the only time in a day where it is quiet enough for me to reflect. It dawned on me that I am an utter hypocrite. I was wondering why people can’t seem to just keep things simple and focus on Jesus during the Christmas season. Well, what does that mean when we think about the Christmas story?
Augustus issued a census decree. Mary, obviously extremely pregnant, rode a donkey all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem (about 70 miles). Upon arrival, the city was overflowing with visitors coming to register for the census. There was not one room left, not even for a mother in labor. Thus, Jesus was born in a stable and placed in a manger. God, had given man his only son.
And so we all hear the decree around Christmas to travel home. We make difficult treks to share time with family. We make room even when the inns are full, laying on sofa beds and air mattresses in less than ideal rooms. We go without sleep and comfort to simply be and share the season with our family and like-family friends. We are challenged to give and sacrifice of our selves as God did for us. No, Christmas is not about comfort. Nor is it really about personal joy. It is about love and oftentimes love is hard. Some of us flock to the manger with excitement and wonder like the shepherds and Magi. The holiday season may be trying to others for a reason. As we replay the story each year, maybe God has cast us in the role of innkeeper and we are being asked if we have room for kindness, generosity and love in our hearts.
I don’t relish discovering I am a hypocrite. So as I feel tension from the holidays rise, I will now ask myself if I have room at the proverbial inn. Even at the height of fatigue and discomfort, I want to remember what this season is really about.
How about you? Will there be room at your inn for Christmas?