As a child I never thought the people of Bethlehem were inhospitable to Mary and Joseph. I merely thought there was no room at the inn. For me it registered like a "no vacancy" sign. If on the road in a strange town with no friends or relatives it was possible that all the affordable rooms were taken. Being offered any form or shelter, even among animals, would have been better than on the side of the road. So the story never had any overtones of mistreatment of mary and Joseph. If you have ever slept in a barn on the hay as I did in Crotia in 1980 while hitch hiking, then you know how wonderful and welcoming it can be to have a farmer open his barn to you, a stranger. There is no need to worry about how children interpret the Christmas story.
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