After days of traveling south, planning, list making, and the one-day stopover in Jerusalem to visit the money lenders, go shopping, then get down to Bethlehem in time to find a place to stay, Christmas night finally arrived. When the three wise men got to the cave and found Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus they gave them gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Mary and Joseph sighed huge sighs of relief. They had shopped well. They both gave the three wise men each a jewel-studded ivory casket full of locally produced organic delicacies: nuts, preserved fruits and stuffed olives. Joseph gave Mary a blue Persian silk evening robe, and Mary gave Joseph a fine set of Roman state-of-the-art carpentry tools and Jesus, being divine, lifted his chubby little hand and gave them all youthful looks for the rest of their lives (you can see it in all the paintings). Then Joseph realized, with the baby on the way and everything, that they’d forgotten all about the relatives back in Nazareth. How could they possibly face them next Christmas…….
What is a gift? An exchange of goods with those you know, who have? Or something offered to a stranger, who does not have.
The Age, letters section, December 2012.