They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. – Matthew 2:11 (CEB)
I finished decorating for Christmas yesterday. Once again, I didn’t know what to do with the wise men. I didn’t want to just leave them in the box, but I also can’t bring myself to put them with the nativity. Matthew 2 tells me that they don’t belong there. The farthest point east in my house is our bedroom – and I don’t really want them there either.
So I find other obscure places to put them.
I don’t want the wise men at the nativity because it’s not “theologically correct.” They came later in the story, and I rebel against their inclusion in Christmas. But does anybody else notice or care that I’ve exiled the wise men?
Really, if I’m honest, it’s me indulging myself. But I think it may represent something else a little deeper than that, too. Is my forced exile of the wise men also my act of rebellion against the commercialization (and consumer-ization) of Christmas? It’s not just the wise men that have no place at my nativity.
Several years ago I stopped sending Christmas cards because it was one of the many things I “had” to do that was robbing me from being present during Advent (but I do enjoy the cards and pictures people send me – thank you!). I also eschew all Christmas shopping. This is not because I don’t like giving or wrapping gifts (or that I don’t like receiving them – again, thank you!).
It’s because I feel like I’m feeding the “winter holiday” machine. (The world has made Christmas all-inclusive. Not by welcoming all to the nativity – except the wise men, of course – but by welcoming all into the shopping frenzy.) I refuse to buy things “to make it even” or because I “need” a gift for someone. I apologize now to anyone who thinks I don’t care enough to buy a gift for them. I actually care enough not to buy them something just because it’s on sale or a pre-packaged Christmas special. Hopefully I show my care and generosity enough throughout the year. I’m not a Grinch or cheap – it’s just that I can’t bring myself to buy-in to shopping and mandatory gift-giving in the last six weeks of the year.
So what about the wise men? Should they be allowed to come out of exile, the pawns of my Christmas rebellion? I’m going to think about it while I enjoy a cup of hot chocolate by the Christmas tree and get back to you.