A lot of people travel for the holidays. Flying isn't fun, but car trips aren't a piece of cake either.
It's better now, but the first automobile drivers had it really rough. Their newly minted cars were slow and broke down a lot. People would pass them in their trusty horse-drawn carriages and tell them to sell their cars and buy a horse.
Obviously, automotive technology has improved from the times when horse-drawn carriage drivers were mocking the early adopters of powered locomotion. Not many carriages using actual horsepower can cruise at 75 miles per hour and have built-in WiFi.
Things worked out pretty well for the automotive industry.
Like the car industry, things didn't start so well for the first family who ever traveled at Christmas time. This story also worked out pretty well, but I wouldn't call the original Christmas morning a great start, either.
You have a couple seeking shelter in a foreign city about 90 miles from home. They probably traveled at least a week to make the journey with a very pregnant young woman in the group. Going more than 10 miles a day on a camel or donkey or walking wouldn't be easy on her. Then she began to feel the first signs of labor soon after they arrived at their destination in Bethlehem.
By the time they arrived, there weren't any places to stay. The Bethlehem Marriott was booked up months ago and even the Motel 6 didn't leave a light on for them.
They finally found a place to sleep and for her to give birth. Not many would call the circumstances ideal.
By all accounts, they were in a cave or similar shelter where the donkeys and sheep might have been comfortable. A young woman in labor was probably not comfortable there.
She was able to deliver the Christ child and things started getting better. Angels proclaimed his birth to shepherds. Wise men began a journey from far away. The life of the long-awaited Messiah had begun.
As pastor and author Sam Allberry said this week, Christmas is for the people who are off to a rough start. Maybe your fourth or fifth chance to start over isn't going very well.
"Christmas is for the weary, for the messed-up, and for the broken. If your life isn't Instagrammable, Christmas is for you," he said. He added a play on the lyrics of the popular Christmas carol, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, "O come all ye faithless, joyless and defeated. O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem."
Life is like that. It isn't where you start, it is where you finish. From a cave in a foreign land to Savior of the World is more than we can expect, but thanks to Christmas morning and Easter Sunday, we all have hope that our ending will be better than our beginnings or even our present.