It’s eight — wait, EIGHT? Yikes! — days until Christmas. I’m mailing out two packages today, and sewing apron #2. Add two loads of laundry, and you get my list of chores for the day. I’ll be busy. I should be making busy right now, but I thought I’d stall by adding a new post and a little Christmas cheer to my blog. Do you like Arthur’s hat? He’s obviously thrilled with it.
Last weekend our family attended Journey to Bethlehem. It’s a really neat program put on by one of the local Christian churches. Volunteers dress up in costume, and groups of visitors get to “travel” from Nazareth to Bethlehem (for the census), posing as large, Hebrew families with costumed, “in character”, biblical-era guides. The journey takes place along a trail (located outside behind the church) populated by various historical re-enactors who share a little about the culture/history/politics of the time. You’ll meet Pharisees and their scribes, other families traveling with their (real) livestock, wise men (who’ll point out the star they follow — a bright, electric prop), and shepherds who just happen to be visited by angels at the same time you arrive. Watch out for Roman centurions patrolling the road. They’ll check you for papers that you’ve been handed before the start of the journey, bearing your Hebrew name for the night (to help you really get into character — one year Merkin and I got “Joseph” and “Mary” by strange coincidence).
Near the end of the journey, you enter an enclosure where Roman soldiers and taxmen take a headcount, charge you a poll tax, and stamp your papers. Then you’re allowed to enter the city — a covered market where you meet merchants selling everything from live chickens to fabric to pottery. Some hand out cheese and goldfish crackers to the children. There’s even an opportunity to join in a dance to celebrate…something or other…maybe a wedding — you encounter a few different wedding parties on your journey. Then you exit the marketplace in search of shelter for the night. There is, of course, no room at the inn, but your cousins Mary and Joseph are staying in the stable, and Mary’s just had a baby! This is, of course, the Christ child, the long-awaited Messiah that was much-discussed along the journey. There is a short message about seeking Christ in your life. Then you’re led to another building where you can partake of homemade cookies and cocoa.
We had a great time. The actors really get into their roles. There were some giggly teenaged girls in our “family” that had gotten on my nerves just a bit. One was questioned by a Roman soldier who asked her where she was from. She didn’t remember our group’s supposed city of origin, so she didn’t say anything. He pretended to get angry with her, and I piped up, “Please, do not pay any attention to her! She is simple-minded!” He picked up on the comment and said, “A simple-minded Jew? Imagine that.”
Okay, I’ve stalled enough. Time to get to work.