Friday, January 6, 2012

The Queens Came Too

Today, January 6, is the traditional day when Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. Epiphany originally celebrated four events, the baptism of our lord, the changing of the water into wine at Cana, the Nativity of Christ, and the visitation of the wise men or magi. January 6th is the twelfth day of Christmas and twelfth night is the end of the Christmas celebration.

We grew up enchanted by the story of the wise men. Even as a child back in the Baptist church we sang "We Three Kings."

A few years ago I bought a book called When It Snowed That Night by Norma Farber. It's a lovely little book of poetry that I include with my Christmas decorations every year. My favorite poem in the book is titled The Queens Came Late.

I have long thought that the gifts that the wise men brought to the Christ child were odd. I mean gold, frankincense, and myrrh? I understand the symbolism of all three gifts and I've even heard some pretty good explanations for what Joseph and Mary probably used each of them for. But, come on, what Mary really needed was someone to bring a casserole and some diapers.

I think most of us would acknowledge that the role of women in history has been diminished by the fact that history was written by men for men. But I do like to think that maybe the women of Bethlehem heard about the woman who had given birth to a child in the manger and did what women always do, made a casserole, gathered up some baby clothes, or wove a blanket and took them to make the Holy Family a little more comfortable. And Ms. Farber supposes that not only did the Three Kings make that long trip to Bethlehem, but the Queens came too.
Epiphany by Janet McKenzie
The Queens came late, but the Queens were there
With gifts in their hands and crowns in their hair.
They’d come, these three, like the Kings, from far,
Following, yes, that guiding star.
They’d left their ladles, linens, looms,
Their children playing in nursery rooms,
And told their sitters:
“Take charge! For this
Is a marvelous sight we must not miss!”

The Queens came late, but not too late
To see the animals small and great,
Feathered and furred, domestic and wild,
Gathered to gaze at a mother and child.
And rather than frankincense and myrrh
And gold for the babe, they brought for her
Who held him, a homespun gown of blue,
And chicken soup–with noodles, too-
And a lingering, lasting, cradle-song.
The Queens came late and stayed not long,
For their thoughts already were straining far-
Past manger and mother and guiding star
And a child aglow as a morning sun-
Toward home and children and chores undone.
From the Night It Snowed by Norma Farber
1909-1984 , children’s book author and poet.
 This year the Catholic church will celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany on Sunday, January 8.

This weekend we are in San Antonio staying with Katy, Travis and the granddaughters. Tomorrow we'll all travel to Corn Hill, Texas to celebrate Uncle Johnnie and Aunt Mary Ann's 50th wedding anniversary. There will be a mass followed by lunch and a Czech-style wedding dance. I can't wait to join in the wedding march. It will be a great day of celebration with family and loved ones.

I'll be back next week. I hope you have a great weekend.


  1. Beautiful! Happy Epiphany. See you next week!

  2. A beautiful poem. I'm going to look for that book. Yes, the women mattered and surely made a difference. Always have, always will.

    I love the traditions and the family gatherings you celebrate with your family. Such strong connections. I never had them with my family but hope to have something similar (to a lesser degree, I'm sure) with the family I've created.

    I hope your visit was all you'd hoped it would be! Happy Epiphany!

  3. I had never thought about the women that came. That is a beautiful idea that they were there to help her through that time.