One Christmas in Israel

By Glenn A. Hascall


A couple has decided to spend Christmas in Israel. The reality of Christmas day in the country of Jesus' birth is far different than they expected. Based on a true story.


JOHN, (both in their 40's or 50's)
2 or more children (non-speaking parts)


(SETTING: John sits in a chair reading a newspaper as Rachael walks in with a cloth sack - a house plant with hand made ornaments sits on a table.)
RACHAEL: (Disgusted) This is ridiculous!
JOHN: (Distracted) What, dear?
RACHAEL: (Sits bag down and takes coat off while saying) The shops here have nothing that I can use to make my Christmas recipes with.
JOHN: Your bag looks full.
RACHAEL: Well, a few necessary substitutions and a few hard-to-find items and I think I might be able to do some semblance of justice to our family recipes.
JOHN: I commend you for your ingenuity.
RACHAEL: (Unpacks a few of the items in her bag - single eggs, flour in a bag - nothing with a label) Somehow I thought it would be different than this. I mean, it doesn't even feel like Christmas.
JOHN: (Looks up from his newspaper) Yet, here we are in Israel, the place of Jesus' birth.
RACHAEL: But it's Christmas day, John. All the shops are open, the men are working. It's as if this is just other day.
JOHN: Sounds similar to the first Christmas.
RACHAEL: (Pauses thoughtfully and smiles) I suppose you're right. (Children look through a window at the couple - Rachael addresses John in a stage whisper) Don't look now but we have guests.
JOHN: (Turns and looks at the window and the children run away laughing) We must seem so strange to them.
RACHAEL: (Chuckles) I guess you're right. A houseplant with aluminum foil stars on it. Then the crazy lady looking for ingredients they have never heard of. (Sudden look of sadness)
JOHN: You miss home?
RACHAEL: (Pause) Yes, I suppose I do.
JOHN: If we were there, the children would be home for the holidays and we would be gathered around the tree exchanging gifts. The CD player would be serenading us with holiday cheer, a cup of hot cider or egg nog and a fire crackling in the fireplace.
RACHAEL: What I wouldn't give for a fireplace right now.
JOHN: (Stoic) It is cold out there, isn't it?
RACHAEL: (Pause - then thoughtful) John? Do you think the children are together?
JOHN: I suppose they are.
RACHAEL: I wish they were here.
JOHN: Or - that we were there?
RACHAEL: Hmmm (Changes subject) Want some tea?
JOHN: (Chuckles) I'd settle for hot coffee.
RACHEL: (Gets up and begins to pour tea) I sure miss the Christmas carols.
JOHN: Oh, now that I can take care of.
RACHAEL: (Smiles brightly) You can?
JOHN: Yes, and I even brought the adapter.  (Pulls out a portable CD player and plays an appropriate Christmas CD lightly in the background - "O Little Town of Bethlehem)
RACHAEL: (Recognizes the music) Cute. Thank you, John. (Hands him a cup of tea) This is nice.
JOHN: (Takes the tea and sips - makes a face) All I wanted for Christmas was coffee.
RACHAEL: (Ignores the insult) You're welcome.
(They both enjoy the music for a few seconds)
JOHN: Has this trip been so horrible?
RACHAEL: Oh no, John, never think that. We were able to see the place where Jesus was believed to have been born, (Smiles) we've seen some of the local "Inn's".
JOHN: You know, it makes me wonder if this is what it was like when Joseph and Mary came for the census.
RACHAEL: What do you mean?
JOHN: There were lots of people from out of town. More than likely, there were people with different customs and traditions. The locals didn't take the day off. Jesus' birth, while expected, must have seemed like a meaningless event to the people in Bethlehem. After all, children are born all the time.
RACHAEL: I'm not sure what you're getting at?
JOHN: I'm not sure, either. (Pause) But, one thing I do know, just because we're in the country of Jesus' birth, doesn't necessarily mean that it is going to somehow feel more like Christmas.
RACHAEL: I guess I just assumed that there would be Christmas trees, decorations, Christmas carols and cards.
JOHN: That IS how we celebrate Christmas, isn't it?
RACHAEL: (Sits next to John and listens to the music for a while) John?
JOHN: Mmm?
RACHAEL: It's true, isn't it?
JOHN: What's true, dear?
RACHAEL: Being in Israel at Christmastime doesn't necessarily mean it will feel more like Christmas.
JOHN: (Pause) Yes, Rachael, that's true.
RACHAEL: (Sips tea in thoughtfulness) So where is Jesus?
JOHN: In the hearts of His people, Rachael. In the hearts of His people.
(fade to black
Copyright 2002 by Glenn A. Hascall
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