Does anyone else think that it is odd that Baby Jesus got only some frankincense, myrrh and gold for His first Christmas? I mean, it was the first Christmas ever, and that was the best that anyone could do? Well, maybe those gifts were something important back then. Maybe it was a good heap of gold. It just seems to me that three ‘wise’ men could have procured better gifts. More than two thousand years later, some of us are disappointed if we do not get a new Lexus on Jesus’ birthday, after He got only frankincense, myrrh and gold. (Get your own birthday!)
Although I do not remember my first Christmas, I know that my parents and others got excellent Christmas gifts for us kids when we were young. Our stocking that hung over the fireplace were filled with a mix of nuts, mandarin oranges, cellophane wrapped hard candies and small wooden toys. This is a tradition that dates back to a time when citrus fruits and certain nuts were something fancy that needed to be imported to Northern Europe from Mediterranean regions.
Of course, citrus grows quite well in our region, and almonds and walnuts still grew in the last remnants of local orchards. Our great grandparents had two mature English walnut trees in their gardens. Only pecans and hazelnuts were exotic. I happened to like pecans because they are from Oklahoma. (I did not know where or what Oklahoma was back then, but I knew it was an excellent place.) Hazelnuts were from Vermont, which is twice as far away as Oklahoma is, if you can believe that!
The gifts under the Christmas trees were even more excellent! One year, I got packets of seed for a warm season vegetable garden the following spring. There were seed for pole beans, corn, pumpkins, cucumbers and zucchini. (The cabbage incident that I will write about later happened in the cool season garden the following autumn.) Under the Christmas tree at my grandparents house, I got all the gardening tools that I would need in my garden, including a small shovel, garden rake, leaf rake and hoe. But wait, there’s more! Under the Christmas tree at my great grandparent’s house, I got flower seed for bachelor button, alyssum and a few others, as well as bare root rhubarb plants (from my great grandfather’s rhubarb that he had been growing longer than anyone can remember). I had already learned about seed from my first nasturtiums (https://tonytomeo.wordpress.com/2017/10/07/dago-pansies/), so I could not have been more pleased with my cache of gifts.
For later Christmases, and also birthdays, I got all sort of other things that were much more excellent than frankincense, myrrh and gold, including an incense cedar (how appropriate) that my grandparents brought back from the summer house near Pioneer, and a young ‘Meyer’ lemon tree. My Radio Flyer wagon was the biggest and most excellent in the neighborhood, and was more than sufficient to haul all my gear around the garden with. My big watering can was a bit too big, and was too heavy for me to move when it was full of water.
I would not say that these gifts were extravagant. They were just . . . okay, so they were extravagant. It was a long time ago. Unfortunately, my parents figured out that their gifts were somewhat excessive just prior to buying me the Buick I wanted. The wagon is still around. My mother uses it to bring in firewood. She also uses the little shovel to clean ash from the stove.
(The gardening article that is regularly scheduled for Mondays is scheduled for tomorrow. The featured species that is regularly scheduled for Tuesdays is scheduled for Wednesday.)