The sun rises on the winter solstice, and so comes time to pull open the blinds and let the day's light in. It's just a couple of days till Christmas, and there on the window sill sit three small wooden kings, left right where they were placed on Advent's first Sunday.
To some, they might seem out of place; far removed from the small wooden Mary and Joseph and the flock of sheep that await a blessed birth in the wooden creche, which sits on a bookshelf across the room. But these hand-carved kings are where they are supposed to be — on a journey that in past years has taken them from one end of the house to the other.
The kings' trek is a part of our family's holiday tradition, one that came about years ago when the kids were little, Santa was all the rage and the Christmas gift-giving extravaganza was starting to look like a shark feeding frenzy.
Torn wrapping paper and boxes everywhere. Baby Jesus didn't stand a chance in that melee.
We wanted to instill a deeper meaning of our Christian holiday, so when the time was right, the children each received their own "hands on" creche. A nativity scene with movable figures; a Jesus, Mary and Joseph you could pick up and touch, sheep that could wander and three kings that could embark on a journey of a child's making.
It soon became a shared path; a daily delight for young and old to find a set of kings sitting on the kitchen counter, the dining table or a bedside night stand as they moved us all through the four Sundays of Advent and the 12 days of Christmas, culminating with the first day of Epiphany when human hands would finally set them in the creche before the baby Jesus.
These wise men in the window belong to the middle child, who has long since blossomed into a young adult with things like college, a job and a beau to take up her time. And so it seems, the kings are stuck on the sill.
"Don't worry," she says when I tease her about their sluggish nature. "They'll get there — they're just stopping to smell the roses. Enjoying the view."
Which, I guess, isn't such a bad idea.
Try as you may, the holiday does have tendency to get away from you. 'Tis the season to get stuff done and spend, spend, spend on all that glitter and gold and those diamond-encrusted baubles that will certainly assure us of a Christmas to remember.
Now let's kick the tree to the curb and get on to the post holiday sales.
That's seems to be the train we're on.
So maybe it's time to get off. Maybe take a turn down the kings' leisurely path so we can stop for awhile — maybe smell the roses and enjoy the view, all the while knowing we'll get there.
Michele Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.