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 sigh.

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.

Have you been playing the Three Wise Men game? If so, where have your Kings been hanging out? Anywhere precarious?

And did you know the Three Wise Men game features in one of the stories in my children's novel, The Angels of Abbey Creek?

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  1. I have not heard of the wise men game, but I do remember growing up daily advancing them closer to the stable as they journeyed to see the newborn king.


    1. Betty,

      It sounds like our Wise Men game is just a variation of your tradition of moving the Men closer to the stable each day. We continue to hide the Kings until Epiphany when they join Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the nativity scene.

      I hope your move went well and you're settling into your new home!

  2. I am sorry for your loss ... haha I think your talented family should all make one piece of the nativity set each! Pick a genre, like clay and set them all to it. Imagine how awesome that would be, when the grandkiddies are all surrounding it and trying to work out which piece their mama or papa made out of Grandma and Granddads awesome nativity set. I may need to work on more children to get a full set though ... lol Happy New Year love. xxx

    1. Lisa,

      Yes, yesterday was a very sad day as we said goodbye to the Wise Man and then threw him in the bin. Thank you for your empathy.

      Your comment reminded me about a nativity set Sophie made for me last year. Of course you know I posted photos of it on my FB page, because you were online when I did that and we exchanged comments!

      We can never have too many nativity sets so maybe we should make a family one like you suggested. I could also collect one of those beautiful (and expensive) Willow nativity sets piece by piece. Add a piece every Christmas, maybe.

      Happy New Year to you and your family too. Lots of changes in the new year for you! I hope you have a year full of blessings. xx

  3. You never know when you may suddenly stumble upon a Wise Man who lost his two companions. How happy he will to meet you. :-)

    1. Susie,

      I never thought of that. You are quite right. We could find a Wise Man needing a home! I am reminded of a nativity at a local monastery. It's a collection of statues, obviously from many different sets, because they are of different styles and sizes. For example,there are shepherds guarding sheep that are taller than they are. There is even a reindeer in the stable! But it doesn't matter that the nativity is made up of odds and ends. It still captures the attention of all the children. They love it!

  4. We also make the 3 wise men travel closer to the Nativity set every year. Hiding them sounds like a fun game. We let them travel until Jaunary 6th because all holy days are moved to Sundays our place, and we try to celebrate them on their "true dates". Christmas ends tomorrow, not a second before, then we ligth the candles on the tree one last time, each person has a smallish present and we eat well. Next day while the Owlets are away at school, MotherOwl clears away Christmas. The room will look bare and bigger.
    The nativity at our church is very disaapoinding. Bought some imes in the 70'ies and reeking of that period. Stylish, mordern, and not a jot of warmth and happines to it. The Owlets would love the one from your monastery.

    1. Uglemor,

      All holy days are moved to the nearest Sunday here as well. We're going to keep celebrating Christmas right up to next Sunday, the Baptism of Our Lord. We'll probably eat well once more too! And then put the tree and decorations away. It's always much more fun to decorate the tree rather than undress it and put everything away. But yes, our home will look a little bigger when we have finished. Clean and tidy.

      I'm sure the Owlets would love the monastery nativity. The church is also always decorated with a number of huge pine trees which reach up towards the ceiling. Tinsel and lights drip from the branches. I always wonder who climbs so high to decorate the trees! Certainly the church feels a warm and happy place!

    2. I like your wondering about who decorates the tree. We wondered too, as we were in another church with a very tall tree. We keep up only our nativity untill the Baptism of Our Lor, and yes the undressing always leave me feeling frustrated and kind of naked Your monastery sounds like a great place.

    3. Uglemor,

      We are fortunate to have the monastery within fairly easy driving distance. Mass is always available there, plus other devotions like the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, Rosary, Benediction, veneration of relics and special blessings for the family. Each month on the 13th, there are Fatima Day devotions. Hundreds (sometimes thousands) of pilgrims come from near and far for Mass, the Rosary, the Chaplet and confessions.

      It's a pity undressing the Christmas tree isn't nearly as much fun as dressing it!

  5. Well, Sophie's set is priceless..guess you can't do better than that, lol!
    We've had Christmas with only one wise man..well the other two were sort of hiding under his cloak but only one was really prominent. It's a statue we received as a gift years ago. It's great..because wherever one goes all three go. Oh-oh!..I just thought...if one leaps off our table all three will goooooooo!! Think I'll check out the post Christmas nativity sales down town. ;-)

    1. Trish,

      Three Wise Men in one statue. I would have wiped them all out with one swipe of my arm... I mean they would have all leapt off the table together! Disaster! Maybe you'll find a beautiful nativity in the post-Christmas sales for less than the one we found!

  6. Your wise-man-game is very popular in our family and kids look forward to it :) This year our wise man came with us to my in-laws for a few days, we couldn't go without them ;) And they came back all healthy and happy (it certanly helps that they are unbreakable (playmobil)).

  7. We also have one beautiful nativity (a breakable one), and our camel has lost one foot this year. I hope the wise man will take good care of it till next Christmas season.

    1. Luana,

      Yes, the Wise Man game is a lot of fun. Even my older young adult children love playing it, and they still get excited if they happen to find the men first!

      We've never been away from home while playing the game but I imagine we'd do the same as you, and take our Wise Men with us. It would be so enjoyable finding new hiding places in a different house. I've seen the Playmobil sets. They look fantastic. No danger of breaking the characters.

      Perhaps every family needs two nativities. One that can be handled, and a beautiful one to look at. I wonder how your camel lost his foot. Oh my! The thought of the Wise Men looking after the camel makes me smile!

      Luana, thank you so much for stopping by. I have enjoyed chatting with you about Wise Men!

  8. What?!?! I've read this post 2 or 3 times already and haven't stopped to comment yet?! Pretty rude of me, considering that I absolutely love it.

    Our first nativity set was made by my husband and me, not long after we'd married. He was still in University and money for a nativity set was just not there, but we knew we wanted that as our Christmas center piece - more important than a tree.. So we made a set - including figures - out of cardboard. The manger and stable were made from boxes from a relative's store. And, um... the relative owned a Tavern. So: the outside of the stable is wonderfully drawn and painted...and the underside of its roof is clearly (boldly) printed with a whiskey brand's name and logo.

    We always figured Baby Jesus would understand.

    1. Nancy,

      You've probably read this post 2 or 3 times because there's nothing new to read! I haven't exactly written many posts recently. You are not rude at all but I am glad you love it.

      Oh my! I love the sound of your first nativity set. How special. How many other people have a stable boldly printed with a whisky brand name? "We always figured Baby Jesus would understand." Yes! Do you still have the set? Is it now a family heirloom?

      Our nativities are now safely packed away. One set fitted back into its box with more ease now that one of the Wise Men is no more. Sad but we've giggled too. Mistakes always give us good material for stories!


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