Every Friday my column appears in a bunch of papers in Ontario and Saskatchewan. I’m taking a bit of a hiatus from my column this month as I finish up the second edition of my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum. So I’m rerunning some Christmas columns that I enjoyed from years past. Here’s one that won a Canadian writers’ award:
Right now, many men are obsessed with that age old question: “how can I earn major brownie points this Christmas?” Well, if you want to find the road to Christmas success, it’s always advisable to follow those who have blazed the trail before you. And who better than those we now call “The Three Wise Men”, all because they mightily impressed an important woman that long ago Christmas.
What did they do that was so wise? First, they brought gifts.
No matter what your wife says, a package under the tree is non-negotiable. But not just any package. I heard the woeful tale of one husband who bought his wife a scale. As my husband said, that level of stupidity doesn’t come naturally. You have to practice.
The gift, then, must be good. The Wise Men came bearing gold, frankincense, and myrrh. I’m sure Mary greatly appreciated those things. I’m equally sure she and Joseph promptly sold them to pay for their flight to Egypt, thus ushering in that other sacred Christmas tradition of returning gifts for the cash.
The Wise Men’s gifts, though, did show great forethought. They brought gifts to honour a king, just as you must buy gifts to honour your queen.
But the wise men remembered that first rule of Christmas gift-giving: under no circumstances should you buy her something you think she needs.
First, you’re probably wrong; and second, even if she needs it you’re bound to buy the wrong one. If she needs it, make a date to go buy it together on Boxing Day. Don’t make it a gift. The Wise Men, after all, didn’t bring diapers and Vaseline, though those would have been useful. They brought something symbolic of who Jesus was to them. So think romance, not necessity. Think meaningful, not useful in the laundry room. It’s the wise way.
The Wise Men, however, were not merely gift toters. They also were wise because they were on the look out for danger, avoiding the homicidal King Herod and protecting Mary and Jesus in the process. This may not be a very women’s lib type thing to say, but I think “protecting your brood” comes right after “it’s the man’s job to kill the bugs” in the official marriage rule book.
Now, men must understand that many dangers in a woman’s life are of her own making.
Women naturally expand to fill the void—and no, I’m not referring to the lady who required that scale. If there is work to be done, and no one to do it, women naturally step in. That is why we are chronically exhausted and grumpy. Men can protect women by helping us do some of that work, and by gently helping us see when we’re getting out of control, preferably while handing us chocolate truffles in the process.
Finally, the wise men took their eyes off of the camel races and other ancient entertainment to search for signs of something important. They saw that star only because they were looking up. This Christmas, we all need to get our eyes off of the screen and onto the faces of those we love. How are they doing? How are you doing? Don’t be afraid to ask.
When the wise men saw that sign, though, they didn’t back away.
They knew that sometimes you have to take a journey to find something truly important. I don’t mean heading down to Home Depot to get the latest power tool; I mean going places you wouldn’t normally venture. Maybe you need to take a journey this Christmas season; a journey back to that place in your heart where you first fell in love. Maybe you need to journey to church, to a marriage counselor, to more of your children’s pageants. Maybe you need to journey to a place of forgiveness. Maybe you need to reach out to an estranged brother, father, or son. Maybe you need to take a journey to a place where you can be free to say “I love you”, “I cherish you”, “I need you”, or to find an answer to the question, “what am I here for?” Seek out that which is important this season. It is there to be found, and it is a wise man indeed who does not pass it by.
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