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Jesus’ Christmas wasn’t picture-perfect, either.

2 min

Christmas is almost never perfect. In fact, it almost always comes around with its own variety of specific stresses that only a holiday can bring: broken family relationships, incredibly stressful travel, financial strain exasperated by the pressure to give good gifts, crying kids, imperfect pictures—the whole experience is sometimes so difficult it distracts from the joy of the season. But what if I told you that by experiencing all the bad that comes with Christmas along with its good, you’re actually doing Christmas the right way? Or at least the original way. Don’t be fooled by the pristine nativity scene on your grandmother’s shelf, the real Christmas story has a lot more grit.

Here’s the short version. Mary is shockingly pregnant with Jesus before she is married, which immediately puts strain on her and Joseph’s engagement. He’s about to quietly divorce her, but then has a change of heart. Either way, it’s not the traditional start to a relationship, and relational strain was certainly present. Then there’s a new law that everyone has to travel back to their town of origin for a census. For Joseph, that town is Bethlehem, about 90 miles away from their current home of Nazareth. Remember there aren’t planes, trains, cars, or anything of the sort, so this journey would have taken them about a week walking for 8 hours a day (while Mary was very pregnant). Stressful travel? Check. Then once they get there, there isn’t anywhere for them to stay. So the very weary couple ends up camping out alongside the animals—which means Jesus was born without a home, without a crib, crying in a food trough. I think we can safely check financial strain, crying kids, and imperfect (mental) pictures off the list.

The first Christmas was a mess, and yet Mary and Joseph were still overjoyed to welcome the newborn Jesus into the world. The backdrop of brokenness just made the joy of new life that much more of a celebration. I have my fair share of stressful, strained, and imperfect Christmas memories—I’m fairly certain we all do, but if the first Christmas could be so messy and still warrant a massive celebration over 2000 years later, maybe it’s worth acknowledging the imperfect moments that point us to ones full of joy.

With that in mind, if you have some notable Christmas pictures that wouldn’t ever make the Christmas card, we’d love you to share them yourself using #HeGetsUs. Our hope is that the collection that results will give us all a laugh, show us we’re not alone in the chaos, and remind us of how imperfect and difficult the first Christmas was and how real each has been since.

Scripture References: Luke 2:1-20, Matthew 1:18-25