Paul Greenberg

And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them at the inn. -Luke 2:7

Yeah, sure, I remember 'em. How could an innkeeper forget? Even without you reporters coming by years later and asking all kinds of questions. There was just something about 'em. Like they was always standing in a light or something. I don't know. All I know is that they needed a place to stay, the house was full, so I did the best I could. I sure didn't turn 'em away. Put that down: I didn't turn 'em away. Everybody seems to forget that, ya know.

If you're gonna tell the story, tell the full story, for God's sake. This is a respectable inn, always has been, always will be. We don't put guests up in any stables, but what can you do if you're full up? You gotta make do.

I guess I could've just turned 'em away, and you people would've left me alone. Instead I try to do the right thing, and have to answer all these questions every year. What do they say - no good geed goes unpunished?

They seemed a nice enough couple - from somewhere up north, I think. Not used to the big city. Something about having to pay their taxes and the husband's coming from around here. Joe Something was his name; I forget.

Hers? You got me, buster. We get so many folks coming through this time of year. And everybody's always complaining about taxes. I know, believe me I know. Mine are too high, too.

Still, there was something unusual about the lady, so quiet, so gentle, like she knew something. I think this was her first. She was worried, of course, you could tell, and just about worn out. Traveling ain't easy. Not on these roads. Her husband was in even worse shape; men take these things harder, you know. So, like I said, I did the best I could. And they did all right, didn't they? A healthy baby boy. You can't beat that. I was glad about it. No liability.

You feel better seeing a happy family. You always do. Next morning they was anxious to leave. All concerned about what they had to do next. That's the thing about happy families. They never know how happy they are at the time, busy as they are.

The only thing I was told, mister, was that the lady needed a place for the night, and what was I supposed to do? Like I said, all the rooms were taken. Kick somebody out? I could lose my license. It wasn't as if they had a reservation. So I sent 'em out back. It wasn't till those other guys, the ones in limos, came by all dressed up and with those expensive gifts from the East, that I figured something was up. But by that time it was a little late, ya know?

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.