This is a story about accidents and wisdom. As a child I am sure all of us have a story of breaking something in our house by accident. People my age will nod their heads and laugh if you mention the immortal words from "The Brady Bunch", "Mom, always said,'Don't play ball in the house.'"
When I was young my mom had a lamp. At the particular age I was I could never really understand why it was called a lamp. It looked more like a large vase. It was an antique and was very special to my mother. It sat by the fireplace in the living room. On one particular day my sister and I were playing in the living room. We were singing, dancing, and acting out lyrics to songs. If I recollect correctly it was Beatles music. We were having a grand time, and then it happened. I don't know how, I don't know who, but there was a crash. My sister and I froze and turned to see the lamp shattered on it's side. We then heard my mother's pained cry from the basement where she was doing laundry, "Was that my lamp?" Suddenly, my father materialized from no where. He looked at the lamp and he looked at us. "Go to your rooms." he told us. He did not say it in an angry way, more of a "I will take care of this and save your lives." kind of way. My sister and I dashed passed my mom and ran upstairs. I looked back to see my dad comforting my mother.
I don't recall being punished for breaking my mother's precious item. I do know it hurt me that it had happened. I was upset that I had taken something from her. I knew there was nothing I could do to fix it. It was, an accident. I am much older now but I still remember how bad I felt back then. Over time my siblings and I have given my mom other antique lamps. She now has several. We tried to give her something back that we feel was wrongly taken.
It is at this point that I must flash forward to the present day. It is the holiday season. My family has returned from out travels but has not cleaned up our Christmas decorations. In the family room sits my Nativity Set. My Nativity set is a little different. It is mine, that I liked, and I have worked hard to build up over the years. It is fairly expensive so I have bought it or received pieces as gifts over time. It is nearly a complete set. I am in the kitchen cleaning up and I turn around. There before me stands my youngest child. Her eyes are wide and she holds in one hand, the head of a wiseman, and in the other his body. She looks at me and stammers," He, he just fell over." I return her gaze and echo back "He just fell over?" a question and probably some sternness in my voice.
My daughter regroups and says,"I was bouncing on the ball(why is always balls)and I bumped it. You can glue it, right?" she asks me. I examine the wiseman, "I guess I could glue it." I say. I am thinking in my head, but then he would have this scar on his neck like some marauder had come up from behind and slit his throat and tried to rob him. I am clearly upset at the loss of my wiseman but I am doing my best not to show it. I have my vivid memories of how upset I was when I had broken something special to my mother. My daughter can see I am hurt, and she knows how important my Nativity is to me. She looks at me and her eyes fill with tears. "I am so sorry mom." she cries. "It was an accident." I comfort her and calm her down. "Don't worry," I say, "I can get another one." In fact when I seek out my husband and cry a little on his shoulder he suggests just that. "Just call them up, I am sure they will let you buy just one." I nod in agreement, but secretly know it does NOT work that way.
I come back downstairs and at the sight of me my daughter starts crying again. I take her in my arms and comfort her again. This time I tell her not to worry. As I recall in the bible it never actually SAYS there are 3 wisemen. People just assign the number three because of the gifts that is listed they bring. In our Nativity one wisman can bring TWO gifts. I reassure her that I will buy some new wisemen. Next year, I say, we can have FIVE wisemen. What baby Jesus would not like a few extra gifts?, I ask. I also think in the back of my mind, a few extra wisemen for the next time this happens could be a good thing. Now that's what I call wisdom.