1007. “The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents.” ~Excerpt from the The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.
~Excerpt from a hymn
by John H. Hopkins, Jr. (1857)

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The Journey Of The Magi

“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again…”
~Excerpt from a poem by T.S. Eliot

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. ~Matthew 2:9-11  ✝

**White horse image found on Pinterest

654. The North wind did blow and now we have some sleet and snow, so what then will poor robin do, poor thing? ~Edited and adapted line from an old Nursery Rhyme

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Mistress Mary quite contrary,
Why doesn’t your garden grow?
Is it because the sleet and snow
Have left the pretty maids unduly cold?
~Adapted verse from 
an old Nursery Rhyme

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Yesterday an itsy bitsy spider climbed up the garden spout, but it wasn’t long before the rain came down and washed the spunky little spider out.

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Then this morning with a hickory dickory dock, the clock struck early on, and the mouse ran out to find that the temps had, as they predicted, dropped below freezing and would stay that way all the livelong day.  So with a hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle began to shed a host of woebegone tears and the dog refused to laugh when the spoon slid silently away on its ice-laden dish.

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Undaunted by such things, however, Humpty Dumpty set out to sit upon the garden wall, but a slip here and a slide there whilst on the way convinced him not to take a chance for he could plainly see that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men wouldn’t be able to put him or the frost covered flowers he might land upon back together again. Now as the day draws to an end, Polly has put the kettle on so that all can have a spot of tea and while safe and warm inside dream of better days.

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He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. ~Job 8:21   ✝

**Iimages via Pinterest

588. The magic of Christmas Eve is not in the presents under the tree but in the coming of His presence…

Christmas Eve is a night of sacred hymns
that wrap themselves around us like a shawl.
And they warm more than the body–
they warm the human heart and fill it
with melodies that last forever.
~Edited and adapted
by Bess Streeter Aldrich

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~by Teri Casper

Several common herbs have legends connected with the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt after Jesus was born. Since rosemary is silent underfoot, its soft leaves muffling crackling twigs beneath it, it prevented detection and ensured their safe journey.

Another story involves rosemary, sugar cane and date palm. The plants argued as to which provided the Holy Family with the greatest benefit. Palm sheltered them in the daytime heat and gave them fruit. Sugar cane provided sweetness. The rosemary bush was silent, having nothing special to offer the family.

After Mary washed Jesus’ swaddling clothes she asked the palm to bend its head so she could hang them on its fronds to dry. It couldn’t bend low enough for her to reach them. Sugar cane offered its branches but the clothes fell to the ground. So Mary hung out Jesus’ clothes on the rosemary, a small flowerless bush that had antiseptic properties. Mary blessed the rosemary, giving it flowers the blue color of her robe. Legend has it that a rosemary plant will grow no higher than six feet in thirty-three years, so as not to stand taller than Jesus did.

During their flight to Egypt, Mary, Jesus and Joseph ran out of water. Joseph went to the nearest village to get some. Mary heard Herod’s soldiers’ shouts and the sound of hoof beats approaching. There was no place to hide.

Mary saw a rose bush and asked for shelter. It refused, which is why rose bushes have thorns. The clove bush also refused help and this resulted in it having unpleasant smelling flowers. The sage plant hid them, blossoming to create safe haven. The soldiers passed by. Since then, the plant was considered sacred and believed to possess curative and protective powers.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. ~Psalm 73:25-26   ✝

**Image via Pinterest, text added by Natalie