Bearing Gifts We Travel Afar

It was quiet in the stable.

Mary was still exhausted following the long journey and the travails of a child-birth conducted without even hot water and towels, which (as everyone who’s ever seen The Waltons knows) are the very minimum requirements at such an event. 

The shepherds had long fallen silent. There are only so many times you can make coo-ee noises at a baby. 

The Little Drummer Boy slouched moodily in the corner, a hole the size of a Josephly fist in the front of his drum. In fairness to Joseph, who was a real saint in so many ways, there is a limit to how long you can listen to a small boy with a new drum.

And this was the twelfth day. 

Suddenly they heard camels pulling up outside…


….”Damascus!” snorted Melchior. “That’s where we ended up. Just because you had the map upside down.” 

“Ok, o-kay,” said Balthasar, in the tone of one who has heard that sentence many times over the past few days. “It’s a map of a desert, for God’s sake, it looked the same no matter which way I held it. Anyway, if you remember, I had to try and read the map because the original plan, which I believe was yours, didn’t quite go to, well, plan. Remind us again what that was?”

“Er, well,” said Melchior, suddenly a bit more defensively, “I was going to, er, follow the star.”

“Indeed,” said Balthasar, “THE star. It turns out, though, doesn’t it, that although the desert lacks many things, such as, for example, food, drink or a good services area, stars in its night sky are, in fact, quite plentiful.”

“Oh, shut up, the pair of you,” said Caspar (who’s reputation as the friendly one would haunt him through the ages, though no-one can figure out why). “The main thing is we’re here now. Mind you, we’re twelve days late, so unless it’s been the greatest birthday party of all time, it’s probably over now.”

And, so saying, he…


…. pushed open the stable door.

“Gosh,” said Caspar, “everyone’s still here.”

“Must be a great party, eh?” said Balthasar, nudging the First Shepherd.

“It’s a bit quiet now,” said the First Shepherd. “Started well, though. A heavenly chorus, an Angel …”

“….music…” muttered the Little Drummer Boy.

“Well, don’t worry, we’ll liven it up again,” said Melchior.

“Great,” said the Second Shepherd. “Who are you?”

“We’re the Three Wise Men,” said Balthasar.

“Seriously?” said the Third Shepherd, who had overheard most of the conversation outside.

“Believe me,” whispered Caspar to him, “when you grow up in a tiny collection of tents in the middle of nowhere, standards are a little lower. Where we come from, anyone who can eat his kebab without skewering himself to the tent-pole through the back of his throat is a wise man.”

“Anyway,” said Melchior, “where’s the man of the hour?”

“Over here,” said Mary softly.

The three approached the manger, and stared in with the look of any single man the world over confronted by a baby, i.e., complete indifference. Eventually, to break the silence, Caspar looked at Mary, then at the baby. “He has his mother’s eyes,” he said.

Balthasar looked from Mary to the baby as well. “And her nose,” he added.

Melchior looked at Joseph, then at the baby, then at Joseph again, only harder. “Er, I’m sure he’ll grow up tall like his dad,” he said eventually.

The shepherds, who regarded themselves as experts on silences after the last twelve days, felt that this one was the deepest yet.

“Well,” said Caspar, just a little too brightly, “we’ve brought presents. Here, I bring you Gold.”

“Lick-arse,” muttered Melchior.

“I bring you Frankincense,” said Balthasar. “Nice scents for when you, well, need your botty changed.”

“I bring you Myrhh,” said Melchior.

“What’s Myrhh?” asked the First Shepherd.

Melchior looked at the side of the tin. “It says it’s oil, from the sap of the myrhh tree.”

“Huh,” said Balthasar, “someone did their Christmas shopping at a camel-stop forecourt.”

“They’re not great presents for a baby, are they?” said the Second Shepherd.

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Mary with a grin, “he seems quite happy with them.”

Everyone stared. Where the three gifts had been there was now a blue blanket, a baby’s soother and a small stuffed teddy-bear.


Baby Jesus sucked softly on his soother, cuddled Mr Fuzzy more tightly in his arms, snuggled deeper into his blanky, and smiled to himself.

At a wedding in Cana, many years from now, he would use his power to help others for the very first time, but today’s little miracle was just for him.

After all, it was his birthday.

4 thoughts on “Bearing Gifts We Travel Afar

  1. Jo

    Ps. We three kings of Orientar. Bearing gifts we travel so far.

    Took me years to work out what it was really saying, and even now I still sing my original apprehensin of it.

  2. laughykate

    Jo, I am with you, ‘cept I thought it was some type of fancy tarseal. “We three kings of ori and tar…”

    However I will share with you the New Zealand version thanks to Fred Dagg…

    “We three Kings of Orient are
    One on a tractor, One on a car,
    One on a scooter, tooting his hooter,
    Following yonder star.

    Oh, star a wonder, star a bright
    Star a bewdy, she’ll be right,
    Star a glory, that’s the story,
    Following yonder star”

    Sing it loudly and flatly with a broad New Zealand accent, she’s cracker, mate!


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