It's too simple to say that the past few years have been difficult, but if we're being honest - they have. No more difficult, really, than any of the years before them; it just seems that everyone can relate to the kind of difficulty that we've been having, so it feels more universal, when talking about difficulty, to say that the past few years have been...rough.
And what many of us want right now is a reason to be happy again. A reason to be joyous again. A reason to feel that things are, well, not just okay, but good.
Enter the baby Jesus.
Mary and Joseph were not having a good time. Their days were not really filled with a lot of happiness. Neither was the world around them.
Everyone was trudging home - wherever home was - for a census, a tedious process that often came with the imposition of a tax that you had to pay just for existing. As if anyone needed another bill right about now.
Add to that all of the travel. All of the houseguests. All of the cramped quarters. All of the families trying to make room for extended family members, trying to make beds where there used to be just floor, trying to keep Uncle Bob away from Nephew Tim because they don't get along well, and they're going to ruin everyone's time. Trying to make enough food to feed everyone, with flour getting all over the floor from the bread and crumbs dropping underfoot and lamb roasting, but not fast enough for those who are famished from their journey.
Even the inn is full. There's literally no more room for anyone as every place called "home" is busting at the seams, trying to accommodate a census.
And...you're pregnant. You're very pregnant. You're pregnant out of wedlock, without even having sex, so you don't know exactly how pregnant you are, but the birth of this baby feels very close. And thank God, because you don't know how much longer you can stand listening to everyone talk about you all the time. All the whispers. All the finger-pointing. All the looks that you've gotten in public for roughly the last nine months. All the laughing, the mocking because you keep saying this is a special little baby you're carrying, not just some ill-gotten son of Joseph, but something truly, truly special. And, well, everyone thinks you're at least a little nuts, not to mention extremely loose in the morals.
And all of this just can't be over soon enough because you just don't know how much more of all of this you can take, and you just want life to settle back down and settle in and give you a reason to smile again.
Then, it does.
Because how can you not smile when that little baby comes to rest in your arms for the first time? How can you not be filled with joy when all of that struggle, all of that trial, all of that rough stuff pays off and in the midst of all the noise, all the hubbub, all the mess, there's this beautiful cry of an innocent baby, a newborn infant...
...a veritable bundle of joy, right in your waiting arms...