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Gifts from the wise ones

Travelling toward sanity, peace and real joy

By Carolyn Pogue

Perhaps the three kings set us up for hopes of grand gift-giving at Christmas. Maybe the wise ones today can help us see the light.

In our ancient biblical story, the magi travel from the east to offer three magnificent gifts to this “new-born king.” The way from the east would have been a long, difficult journey by camel. The men, we are told, had waited their whole lives for a sign that times are changing, that a new reign on Earth is about to begin under the leadership of this little babe. It’s a marvellous story. The gifts they bring are marvellous, too: gold, frankincense and myrrh. How might we offer up our very best to usher in a new age of kindness, compassion, hope and peace?

December can bring out our best but also our worst. It’s a month when our feelings of love — and inadequacies — are often translated into buying sprees that fall short of our hope. It’s hard to resist all those glittery words and images that lure us into spending too much money on items that end up on a shelf or in a dumpster. Advertisers want us to believe that if only we would whip out the plastic, we could buy happiness and peace of mind. We’d be considered generous — beautiful, even — if only we would buy their stuff.

The billions of advertising dollars directed at children is particularly offensive and immoral: sweat-shop made toys, war games and junk food do not add up to loving a child or a healthy planet. This kind of gift-giving inspires greed and disappointment.

It was a joy for me to find Mary Hoffman’s picture book, which offers such a lovely alternative vision for Christmas. Three Wise Women depicts three women who give gifts to the baby Jesus: a grandmother from India tells the newborn babe a story; a young European gives the baby’s mother a loaf of bread; and an African mama’s baby gives him love, in the form of a kiss. Each gift, of course, becomes part of Jesus as he grows to adulthood, in turn telling us alternative stories, giving new meaning to breaking bread and offering us love.

The shift to an alternative way to celebrate today is difficult, especially for families with children in school. It can only be made easier with the support of family and friends. There are resources to help, too, such as the classic Unplug the Christmas Machine by Jo Robinson and Jean C. Staeheli, websites such as Alternatives, publishers such as Wood Lake Books and magazines such as Yes!. As we regain our senses, we can see the signs, like bright stars, calling us forward as individuals, families and nation.

And when the Wise Ones saw the Light,
they hastened to ensure
clean water,
fresh air,
organic food,
peaceful play things,
free education, and
an affordable, safe home for every child.
And there was peace.

Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
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