And I'm OK with this new job opportunity...
Observers (that's us, the general public) got to experience a little bit of authentic "Christmas" as we were guided on a walkingtour through the 'town' of Bethlehem - you get to wander among market stalls; pet live camels, donkeys and lambs; smell fish cooking (yes, real fish!) and lentils stewing; watch potters, weavers and bakers, and interact with more than 100 people dressed and acting in character as townsfolk, the Innkeeper, fierce Roman Soldiers, fishermen, shepherds, a tax collector, Rabbis, wisemen, children.
At the end of the walk-thru, you come to the stable with Mary, Joseph and the Christ Child - angels sing, and all is right with the world.
This spectacular event takes place outdoors, at night, in the cold (how authentic!), but fortunately everyone's pretty well wrapped up under those robes. Even Baby Jesus had heavy, insulated blankets and tiny mittens.
My youngest daughter (and grandparents, friends and neighbors) LOVED the program, and we waited in the long lines and walked thru several times. Little Sprout enjoyed the many friendly animals, and looking for her big sisters in their costumes, and we enjoyed seeing the familiar faces of many friends and my daughter's classmates among the cast.
If you live in the Seattle area and didn't make it this year, make a note for next year - it is NOT to be missed.
As I may have mentioned, my Jessika is one of the Tax Collector's servant-girls and in her 'role' she fusses around his tent while he collects taxes from those entering Bethlehem. Not a big role, but she's absolutely LOVING it. This is her third year participating in the program.
Knowing that there were other vegetarians/vegans in the production besides my daughters, I offered to bring a big pot of vegetarian chili for part of an evenings warm-up chow.
Did they have chili in Bethlehem? Maybe not 2000 years ago, but it certainly kept a few weary souls warm tonight while the story they shared warmed thousands of onlookers hearts. (yes, attendance this year was in the thousands.)
Whatever your beliefs, hopefully this finds you safe, warm and sharing the Season with friends
Here's my super-easy chili recipe (one of my daughter's favorites) and some (a lot) of pictures from "Journey to Bethlehem". Enjoy.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced1 green, 1 red pepper, diced2 ribs celery, diced1 cup tomato juice1/4 cup red wine or more tomato juice1 can corn, drained1 package Boca crumbles (or other burger)1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained1 15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained1 15 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained2 cups of your favorite salsa2 Tbsp. chili powder
In a large pot or dutch oven, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat 3-4 minutes. Add peppers and cook until softened, about 3-5 minutes more. Add burger crumbles and cook 5 min more.Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer 20-30 minutes or until flavors combine and chili is thick.