What’s better than the annual family newsletter, just in time for Christmas? For my December series this year, I bring you the newsletters of four characters from the Christmas story. May they inspire you to write your own!
Shalom, Family & Friends.
Oy vey! When I wrote last year’s letter I was all fermisht about the announcement of the Roman census and the crowds it would bring to Bethlehem.
“It will be good for business,” Hirshel insisted.
“It will be bad for business,” I told him. “We’ll wear ourselves ragged and still we’ll be turning good people away.”
He has more in his head than in his pocket, my husband. He spent the summer adding two rooms above the inn and hired his brother Feivel’s girl to help me with the extra cooking and cleaning. Hirchel even had the chutzpah to suggest we expand our business by offering laundry services to the travelers. But I put down my foot. You can’t sit on two horses with one behind, I told him.
When the travelers started shlepping into Bethlehem, oy such a racket like you’ve never heard. Such a stink with the sweating and the dirt and the animals. The inn filled up in no time and I have been run off my feet ever since.
“Sleep faster, we need the pillows,” I told our guests. “You think this is a resort we are running?”
You older ones may remember that my father, rest his soul, named me “Nessa” because he said I would experience a wondrous miracle in my lifetime. It is a blessing my poor father is not around to see my life is nothing but drudgery and hard work. No miracles here.
Hirshel even rented out our bed while he and I take turns sleeping next door at Feivel and Yentl’s house. That is, Hirshel takes his turn. I haven’t slept since all this started.
I was mixing dough for the next day’s challah when yet more travelers came to our door. A man with a very young wife. I was about to turn them away when I noticed the girl was very pregnant. Oy gevalt. The poor little thing had been travelling for days. She looked at me with big brown eyes and I had to look the other way. I called Hirshel to deal with it. He could turn them away without remorse.
Men. They have no compassion.
But as I turned back to the kitchen, I could hear Hirshel offering them space in the stable. Anything for a shekel! I shlepped back to the door.
“Excuse me,” I said to the young couple. “My husband is not right in the head.”
I yanked Hirshel aside. “Hirshel, don’t be meshugenah,” I said. “There is no other place in all of Bethlehem? Can’t you see this girl is about to give birth? You can’t put them in the stable.”
“I’m sorry, you will have to find somewhere else,” I told the couple as I closed the door in their faces.
Men. They have no backbone.
I went back to my bread, but I could not put those big brown eyes and that big round boych from my head. I knew everybody in town was full.
“Hirshel,” I said. “Go track them down and bring them back. We will make a bed for them in the stable. One night only, tell them! We can only hope they are gone before the little one comes.”
But the Holy One works in strange ways, nu? When I went to check on them in the morning, the two had become three. I took them a bowl of hot kubbeh with fresh baked challah and wished them Mazel Tov. While they ate, I held the baby.
“This is something for the newsletter,” I told Hirshel. Imagine, a baby born in our stable! And such a baby he is. Smart. I could see it in his eyes. Maybe even a genius. But hardly a miracle. Certainly not enough to put Bethlehem on the map.
They will be moving elsewhere later today. Maybe tomorrow. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must cut this letter short. Hirshel is kvetching about a bunch of shepherds crowding into our stable. I must go see what all the ruckus is about.
From all of us here at Hirshel’s Hideaway,