Summary: Christmas is about going home.
1Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. 4Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
The circumstances surrounding Joseph’s return to Bethlehem weren’t ideal. He wasn’t returning for a family reunion. We do not know if he had any family in Bethlehem. Did he live a lone in Nazareth? Or, did his parents live there as well? The reason for the trip home was to register for a tax. This was not a pleasant reason for returning home.
To complicate matters, his fiancée was pregnant. The journey would be difficult for her. There would be long miles on the back of a donkey or in a wooden cart. There would be questions and stares along the way. I wonder if this was the first time she met Joseph’s parents.
Regardless the circumstances, the first Christmas involved a journey home.
Monday morning while eating breakfast, we were talking about our plans for Christmas. Adam asked, “Why do we go to Nana & Da-daw’s and Granny & Paw Paw’s house for Christmas? Why can’t they come to our house?” His question threw me off for a second. I know that he enjoys going to their homes. I realized that he was curious about why we did this. I told that it is tradition for children to visit their parents at Christmas. With a smile on my face, I told Adam, Aaron, and Seth, “When you have children of your own, you’ll take them to visit their Paw-Paw on Christmas.” It took a moment for what I said to them to sink in. A big grin came across all their faces. “Then, it’ll be my turn to spoil them and you’ll have to retrain them when you get home.” (I couldn’t believe what I had said. I can’t think of myself as a Paw-Paw yet.)
Christmas is about going home.
I always looked forward to going to Papa and Momma Gaither’s on Christmas Eve and going to Paw-Paw and Maw-Maw’s for Christmas day. My grandparents had a lot of kids. Each set had 8 children, two boys and six girls. I had a lot of cousins to play with. We would draw names because there were too many to buy for everyone. As much fun as the gifts were, what I enjoyed most was going to my grandparents’ homes.
We’d play football in Papa Gaither’s front yard. Hide-and-seek was a lot of fun. We’d hide under the house, in the woodshed, or in the woods. A few of the boys would play “King of the Well House”. The games would be similar at Paw-Paw’s. We had to watch out for the clothes line while playing football there. Many of us got nicks, cuts and bruises because of that clothes line. We would fish in the pond, play in the barn, and when we were old enough, walk down to the creek.