Saturday, December 25, 2010

X - Xenial

NB: this is my first blog post from my iPhone, so it may be a bit short & relatively unedited; I just didn't want to miss posting on Christmas Eve.

So ... A few days ago I mentioned on Facebook that I was a bit stumped about what I'd write for 'X' and TrapperShell suggested 'Xenial,' which I shame-facedly had to Google, and then discovered it's perfect! The word 'xenial' relates to being hospitable, particularly towards strangers. It's a lovely word, will be awesome in my next Scrabble game, and is something so pertinent to Christmas! Well done, Shell!

I wonder how accurately I can ascribe the term to myself, however. I've certainly benefitted from (and am right this moment enjoy the spare bed of) friends and family. And I truly love to have people in my home. But can I imagine making room for a stranger? Not so much, to be honest.

When Joseph led Mary on a donkey to give birth in a lowly manger, the barn's owner was being xenial. Or at least I assume he was - it's possible he was a grumpy old sod who demanded an outrageous payment, but I like to imagine he took pity on the weary young couple in an act of hospitable generosity.

Knowing the theme of today's post was looming, I have been looking for opportunities to be xenial. But I've seen that the farthest I'm willing to go with strangers is to be generous - I will support their comfort & well being, but not in my own space.

Even today as BB2 and I headed up island towards our family Christmas, I had a momentary impulse to be xenial and talked myself out of it. A smiling young couple were hitch hiking on the side of the road. They looked cold and wet - but harmless - and for a moment I considered stopping. But the moment passed and I rationalized about our lack of space & safety concerns. I wanted to stop and didn't.

I'm left wondering - where is the line at which compassion & generosity stop & fear & cynicism take over? Let's find it and stamp it out.

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