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Al on Christmas

Posted by Al on 9:48:20 12/25/2002:

    Hi

    I'm on my way to cook Christmas dinner (well ... the 20 Lb. turkey, the 17 Lb. bone-off rib roast and the cheesed onions part of it, anyways ... ) for 20 family, friends, associates and strangers.

    As a result, I thought of you all.

    About 2000 years ago, this guy took his VERY pregnant wife on a hard journey, riding on a jackass because she was too pregnant to walk, to a city some distance from home. Having failed to make reservations during what turned out to be the very first Christmas rush, they were forced to take lodgings in the stable with the animals.

    Now, this isn't nearly as bad as it sounds. This particular stable was in a cave, and, once you got past the smell, it was warm, dry, well padded with fresh straw, and fairly comfortable.

    Probably more comfortable then the ten-people-to-a-room going on for the poorer people over at the inn!

    Suddenly, and without warning (if you don't count nine months of pregnancy as warning), the wife went into labor and had a baby! It was the custom, at the time, to wrap babies in swaddling cloths to keep them settled down and more calm. After getting the new little boy all wrapped up, they put some fresh, soft hay in a manger and laid him on it.

    About that time, a mess of shepherds, who had been busily not doing much with their flocks of sheep (a shepherd's life is one of contrast. it's, like, boring, boring, boring, boring, boring, boring, boring, boring, boring, WOLF! boring, boring, boring, LION! LION!! LION!!!) came by to coo and say, "Ooh - look at the BABY!." After they accomplished the baby-lookage, they hung around for a while, talking quietly to the new parents and, this being the middle-east with it's strict rules of hospitality, sharing their food, water and wine.

    Later on, these three rich guys showed up, bringing with them some VERY expensive gifts. They were well and graciously received and, this being the middle-east with it's strict rules of hospitality, were probably given some of the shepherds' food, water and wine as well.

    Now, I find it interesting that, while the gold, frankincense and myrrh (the gifts from the rich guys) made headlines, the simple carry-on stuff the shepherds brought wasn't even mentioned, even though it HAD to have been there (that 'boring, boring, boring' bit is hungry, thirsty work) and it would be against all the rules of hospitality not to share it!

    I think there's a reason for that: The food was (and this may get me in trouble with certain Good Eats fans of my association) NOT all that IMPORTANT! The expensive gifts were symbolic, and so they got air-time, but the food and drink played second fiddle to the people that it fed!

    See: It wasn't what the poor shepherds brought with them that was important -- it was the shepherds THEMSELVES that were important!

So, now we go into this, the approximately 2000th celebration of hard journeys, poor planning, hay allergies, crying babies, unannounced guests, money coming too late to accomplish any real good, inappropriate gifts (Sheesh! Incense being delivered to a barn!! Now, really!!!) and all the truly wonderful, unexpected joy that it can bring.

    See what great things can start with simple ideas?

    I wish you and all the shepherds, wise man, sheep and jackasses near and dear to you a very merry Christmas!

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Last Edited: 08/27/2010