It wasn't the night of the birth. It wasn't just after the shepherds had arrived (despite hundreds of TV specials and Nativity scenes that depict it otherwise). There was no hurried flight to Egypt that wonderful night. We hope there was some rest for the weary couple. So while the event we speak of today may have occurred up to two years later (by way of scholars' reasoning) it was, nevertheless, directly connected to that blessed event we know as 'The Nativity'
There was this insanely jealous old man ruling over Judea at the time. He so feared potential rivals that three of his own sons had already been murdered by their own "dear old dad" who saw them as potential rivals. This inspired the Roman Emperor of the day to remark that it was "safer to be Herod's swine than his son." And hearing of a newly born king, having been outwitted by men wiser than he, this suspicious old man issued his orders and here is the result:
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son. "When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." (Matthew 2:13-18
Imagine it being another ordinary day in Bethlehem -- life as usual, when suddenly the clamor of approaching hoofbeats, confused shouts in the dusty lanes of the little town -- soldiers bursting into your home unannounced. There are no words of explanation, they just roughly push you aside, perhaps drawing a sword in warning to any who dared protest. And then, finding within your home, that precious baby son or grandson, two years of age or younger, just running them through before your very eyes.
No court of appeal.
No stay of execution.
No legal appeals, no announcement of any kind.
It just happened and those who experienced such a tragedy probably never knew why.
These are the forgotten victims of Christmas. They died because they had the misfortune of being born in the same place and at roughly the same time as the Savior. Even amid the joy of the Christmas event, there are those who suffered. With every Christmas we observe, remember that there are those who experience suffering amid the joy.
There are those who will experience their first Christmas without a loved one who passed away during the year.