Today was a beautiful day in Bethlehem. The sunshine was very warm and the air was crisp. I decided to make my way to Manger Square to peek in on the celebration of Christmas. I was able to leisurely walk through the Church of the Nativity and along the square. The only foreigners in the area were from Japan and Ethiopia. They were members of Israeli tour buses that arrived to spend a couple of hours touring the area. I think it possible I was the only American around. The shop owners thought is strange I was here especially when they discovered I was staying in Beit Sahur. They seemed pleased to think Americans actually care about their plight and I enjoyed their conversations with me. I was actually given a small cross by an olive wood shop owner to remember my Christmas experience in Bethlehem. I will treasure it for ever.
Once I made my way around the square, I stopped for a coffee and sat outside on a patio to people watch. Much to my surprise a truck full of Arab Santas made their way to the square. Arab Santas are skinny Santas but all the same they are full of joy and vibrance. They were dancing to Christmas carols and throwing out candy to the small children that gathered to see them. I couldn't help but laugh at the site. It was joyous! Much to my surprise the Santas came over and grabbed my hand to sing Christmas carols with them. I obliged. I even got to wear a Santa hat!