While digging through boxes of Christmas decorations today, Max discovered my old nativity scene - a hand carved but simply painted wood set from Pier One Imports gifted to me many years ago. Baby Jesus has gone missing, but Max was having a ball playing with the shepherds, wise-men, Mary, Joseph and the animals. It got me thinking about retelling the story of Jesus' birth.
After dwelling on all the facts I could recall, I suddenly realized I wasn't able to remember the name of one of the three wise-men. Balthazar, Melchior and...erg. What was his name? So I Googled "the three wisemen" and found a TON of stuff I never knew. Caspar or Gaspar is the third guy, traditionally; but they are never mentioned in any of the Biblical accounts. Heck, the Bible doesn't even say there were three men...just wisemen from the East. It is only because there were three gifts presented that people assumed there were three men.
I read the article on Wikipedia with fascination wondering where I had even heard the names of the three "kings" before. Or why I was sure that Balthazar was black, Melchior was asian and Caspar was a white guy (and no, he wasn't a friendly ghost.) Was it a movie or storybook from my youth? Church play? I have no idea! I've just always known the story. I found it kinda disturbing to think that Matthew made em up to fit an Old Testament prophesy about kings bowing down before the new born Messiah. But that sort of thing happens a lot in the Bible - parables to teach, and not hard facts.
So I will tell the story as I remember it, and it will become part of Max and Tyler's collective unconscious to one day pass on to their kids. Why not? Showering a baby with gold, smelly oil and stinky incense - it's just funny. Those "wise" men must not have had any kids. Anyone knows a new mom needs things like diapers, baby sized togas and a nice baby carrier that is donkey safe. Honestly!