Although no formal surveys have ever been taken , much thought has been given to the subject of Worst Christmas Present Ever. Before those of you who have received vacuum cleaners, chocolate fountains, or fruitcake makers raise your hands, stop and hear this case for Worst Christmas Present(s) Ever.
Frankincense and Myrrh.
As many of you know, on the night of Jesus Christ’s birth, the Three Wise Men brought gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. Frankincense, according to the Texts –Wikipedia.org in this case– is “an aromatic resin…used in perfumes and (duh) incense.” Myrrh is defined as “the same basic thing as frankincense, except totally different.”
And we all know what Gold is. The perceived disparity was not lost on the Baby’s mother.
“This stuff stinks,” Mary said soon after everyone left the birthing party.
“Seriously Joe, your cheap friends couldn’t just all go together and get us more gold? What the hell do we DO with this stuff? Burn it to offset the smell of those awful feet of yours?”
“I know, Mare, but you know Balthazar and Melchior. They tend to be, umm…creative with their gift ideas. Remember for our wedding they got us that birdbath baptismal font and all those cute little garden gnomes.”
“Yeah and you know what Caspar got us? Old-fashioned cash money. Moolah. Where do you think that 80-inch LCD downstairs came from? I’m putting this straight into the regifting pile. Mary Magdalene is all into this stuff.
But honestly, if the Wise Man next to you comes bearing Gold as his gift, wouldn’t you feel a little bit stupid carrying a bottle of Obsession?”
“Ok Mary, enough. I’ll talk to them about it in the morning.”
“No need, Joseph. I’m taking them off the Christmas Card list.”
“Mary, don’t. First, I don’t think that will solve anything. Second, I really want those guys to see our little Jesus sitting on Santa’s lap next year and turning the kiddie fountain at the mall into a nice Pinot Noir. Hey, where are you going?”
“Headed down to the Cash-4-Myrrh to see what I can get for this.”
Ouch. As you can see, not all gifts will go over as well as others. But the lesson here is not materialism or greed this holiday season, as that all tends to lead to ill will.
The lesson is just to make sure that everyone is on the same page. And to temper expectations. Consider the subsequent rift that nearly divided the three Wise Men.
“Jesus Christ, Caspar, what was that? I thought we agreed on Pomegranates, Frankincense, and Myrrh,” a slightly infused Balthazar asked (loudly) at the bar later that evening.
“I, I…what are you talking about?” a sheepish Caspar mumbled. “OK, OK. I know. Look, I, uh…couldn’t find any pomegranates, so I just got gold.”
“You made us look like horses’ asses again,” Melchior groused.
“C’mon guys. Myrrh? Frankincense? That stuff is all fine, but you guys have to remember, this is The Birth of Our Savior! A momentous event! You have to go big or go home, and the fruit basket and perfume thing just wasn’t doing it for me this time.”
“Just a little heads up next time is all,” Melchior asked. “We got stuck last time too with that birdbath thing for their wedding.”
Caspar agreed to confer with the other two before making any last-minute changes going forward. The Three Wise Men slept off their respective buzzes under a bridge (no vacancies at the local inns) and headed home the next day a slightly different way than they came in. Nobody is sure if they were invited to Jesus’ first birthday party or His pre-school graduation.
As for Mary, the folks at Cash-4-Myrrh eagerly accepted her contribution and after carefully inspecting the load, provided her with a check for $14.07 which further inflamed her. Then they turned around and sold this rare edition for its actual value of $5,000.
Scholars have since debated if the birth of Jesus coincided with the first known use of the phrase “It’s the thought that counts,” (reportedly first spoken by Joseph several weeks later to a still seething Mary, to which she is believed to have responded “We’ll see about that later tonight.”) At any rate, it’s still a good thing to remember.