Wooden Soldiers

Wooden Soldiers 


I always wondered

what happened to those gifts

the magi brought 

gold frankincense & myrrh

were they accepted 


put away for a rainy day


 because I don’t recall

Joe & Mary having a life of ease 

while Jesus was growing up

did he ever ask about those presents 

did he remember the magi

did he look at the myrrh

and think what the heck

how much gold was there 

was it a few ingots

a darling little JC ankle bracelet

did he drum on

the frankincense & myrrh jars

till they broke

and another thing

what happened to Lazarus

after he was risen from the dead

is he still wandering around

cursing the miracle

eager to sleep

to dream of being able to die

but mostly I wonder 

about the magi’s gifts

I don’t have any of my first xmas gifts 

my first toy car

my earliest gift recollection

is of wooden soldiers

I must have been about four

I’d found them hidden away in a closet

under some towels

I wanted plastic ones & was disappointed 

I have no memory of unwrapping them 

on xmas morning

did my folks decide 

to teach me lesson 

and not give them to me 

did Jesus have a memory 

of the smell of barns

did the sight of camels 

make him wonder 

where is my gold mom

is Lazarus 

playing with my wooden soldiers

This piece is about my earliest Christmas memory when we were still living in Winnipeg. I did find find those wooden soldiers. They were laid out in a neat row in box – shiny reds & blacks holding rifles. End of memory. I can’t tell you how tall they were. As I piece says I don’t even remember getting them on Christmas Day. In fact I have recollection of playing with them which is why I wonder if they were held back to tech me a lesson.

As I started the piece I thought of other gifts, ones that have a Biblical association – the visit of the Magi is supposedly why we give gifts as Christmas (yes, I know it was how pagan practices were co-opted by the church). Even these gifts were amongst those traditionally offered to the god Apollo. Frankincense & myrrh are both tree resins – I wonder if maple syrup would be acceptable?

The other Biblical gift is that of life, in this case, Lazarus. As with the magi gifts what became of Lazarus after his resurrection isn’t known. Biblical scholars have no answer other than cultural inferences. Talking with a friend last week about sex ed. in Ontario we wonder just how old Mary and Joseph were. ‘Possibly’ 14-16 for Mary, ‘probably’ between 30-40, for Joseph; was as close as my research got me.

But that wasn’t my wonder as a kid growing up. I was more concerned with the magi’s presents. I do have strong smell associations with Christmas – particularly the pine of the tree. The step to what Jesus’s memories of the manger would be was easy an easy one to take. I have no baby memories though so perhaps he didn’t either. 


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