Imagine what it must have been like in those days long ago leading up to the birth of the Christ Child. The Jews were indeed highly stressed, they had been ordered to go to their place of birth to be recorded in an updated census on the order of Caesar Augustus and there were no exceptions.
Travel in those days was indeed difficult and tiring. One either walked or rode on a donkey along rocky roads, up and down hills and then bedded down overnight in areas where robbers were continually a threat to both their belongings and their very lives. And they were at the mercy of the elements, dampness and cold and biting wind, yet they weathered on, knowing only that it was their duty to Caesar and failure to do so would bring painful consequences. What most of the travelers didn't know at the time was that in their company was a couple who was doing as they were but also carrying a most important duty assigned by God.
For the head of household for that special couple, Joseph, walking ahead of a donkey with his young wife, Mary riding the animal, faced a very difficult challenge. Mary was near her due date and Joseph had to insure that they made it to Bethlehem, his place of birth, safely and on time. He was pushing them forward as hard and fast as he could in order to arrive in time to find a safe and special place for her to deliver this special gift to the world.
Imagine sitting by the campfire while on the way, keeping a wary eye out for danger yet appreciating the wonders of the universe so clear above. Except for the light of the fire on the desolate road, it was pitch black on a moonless night but the stars were ever so bright. The heavens showed themselves in all their glory and Joseph knew he could not fail.
So think about this as you go about your shopping, grumbling about the crowds or the difficulty in finding a good parking space. Or if you're still enmeshed in what is being called "fake news" or even if you are reasonably satisfied with things in your life, realize the thoughts and dreams that young couple held as they faced a dangerous and uncertain world. Remember that the earthly custodians of Jesus in His early years were struggling to fulfill the requirement which God had placed upon them, for they knew it was special and was meant to be. Think of their plight, compared to our comfort and ease of life, and appreciate what it means to all of mankind. The Son of God, the King of Kings would soon be born and with His birth the world would change forever. We don't realize it always, but open your heart and let His love shine in and it will infect your Spirit in the most positive way there is forever.
The road to Bethlehem was the first step on the road to the Salvation and Redemption of mankind. We should all be especially thankful for that during this beautiful time of the year.