Once upon a time there were Three Wise Men. Every year they stood with their gifts, gazing down upon baby Jesus. They seemed quite happy, content with their job. Until this morning. A few hours ago, one of the Wise Men leapt off the table. Yes, he jumped. Down, down he went. Smash! Gone.
“Are you sure that’s how it happened?” asks my husband Andy. “Is that all there is to the story?”
I nod my head. “Yes, I saw everything. I was at the scene. An eye-witness. I was right there. I was polishing the table at the time.”
What are we going to do? When we unpack the nativity set next year, one person will be missing. How can we have only Two Wise Men? It will feel all wrong. That’s not how the story goes.
“Perhaps we need a new nativity set,” I say.
I take a trip into town with a couple of daughters and we head into one of those card and gift shops which also sells Christmas decorations. I’m hoping to find a nativity set half-price in the New Year sale. And I do find one.
“Wow! Look at this, girls!” I shout. I have never seen anything quite so magnificent. Jesus is tenderly enfolded within Mary’s arms. Joseph’s protecting arm enfolds Mary. There is a donkey. A stable…
I look and look… while I think. Where could I put this nativity set? On top of the piano? On the table by the front door? Maybe on the family altar? I am sure I can find the perfect spot to display it. It will become a family heirloom. People will say, “Where did you get such an exquisite nativity set from?” They will wish they had one just like it.
“It’s half-price,” I say to the girls. “If we bought it we’d save $300. What a bargain! We stand in silence for a moment and then I add, “What do you think Dad will say if I spend $300 on a nativity set?”
The girls don’t have to say a word. The answer is written on their faces. I take one more yearning look at Mary, Joseph and Jesus, and then we head out of the shop.
But as we walk back towards the car, I wonder: Perhaps the girls are wrong. There's still hope. Maybe Andy will like the sound of the nativity set.
When I get home, I’ll say, “Andy, I saw such a beautiful nativity set. It was half-price.” I’ll describe every magnificent detail. Andy will say, “That sounds like a fantastic half-price bargain. Do you think it’ll still be there? You should go back and buy it.”
We arrive home. I say, “Andy, I saw such a beautiful nativity set. It was half-price.” I describe every magnificent detail. My husband says, “Would you like some coffee?”
I’m going to have to live without that magnificent nativity set. I guess I’ll survive. It’s not as if we don’t have another set. We’ve still got the one made from cornflake box cardboard and felt. Unlike our china set, this one still has its full complement of characters. Yes, all three of the Wise Men look perfectly healthy, which is rather surprising, considering their adventurous life. For the past 20 years, they have found themselves in some very perilous situations as they've journeyed to Bethlehem.
Our Three Wise Men have balanced precariously on ceiling fans. They’ve trekked into the darkness of behind-the-TV. They've hiked to the top of numerous bookshelves. They've been squashed inside drawers and hidden under cushions. They’ve spent a night in a saucepan and found themselves inside mugs. They’ve huddled together on top of the fridge, and one year, they even had to endure a frosty night inside with the milk. Yes, our Three Wise Men have been all over the place.
So where are the Three Wise Men right now? What are they doing? Actually, at this moment, they're doing nothing much at all. They are just hanging around… waiting to be discovered.