Friday, January 06, 2012

Baby Gets Nothing

It's Three Kings Day! Christmas 2011 is finally fucking over! So this seemed like a good day to check in on the town's publicly-financed Nativity scene, a massive, two-acre diorama torn from the pages of the Gospel of Continuity Problems. In an effort to make this stuff as realistic as possible, the Baby Jesus doesn't actually show up until the morning of the 25th - meaning that, for a month or so, an un-pregnant Mary sits there with her arms in the "cradling an invisible baby" position, waiting for the child to be plopped into her arms by municipal employees just as it happened in real life - while, on the other hand, the Three Kings, who didn't even start their journey until after the baby was born, have been crouching outside the manger since late November, gold, frankincense and myrrh in hand. On Christmas Day the baby appeared, and still they stood there, taunting him with their gifts. And today, according to the legend (and, here, let Johnny Cash it explain it all to you), they arrived, saw the baby (which, in our Nativity scene, they've been staring at for 12 days) "and they knelt down and paid him homage." (Matthew: 2:12)

Except in Querétaro, where, as of 11AM, they were still standing there, clutching their gifts, perhaps afraid to enter as long as a donkey the size of a Hereford bull is roaming around untethered.  Or maybe just confused by the presence of ducks in the Palestinian desert.  Either way, baby gets bupkis.

Now, we come from a country that doesn't celebrate Three Kings Day, so we've never really understood the appeal, other than the obvious, mindless one, which is: "We get presents!!" But American kids do that on Dec. 25. Why would Mexicans want to wait? (Especially since, from what we've seen, "waiting your turn" is not exactly a national trait.) But we think we've finally figured it out.

See, according to the Bible's fine print, Herod had tried to used the Kings to lead him to Jesus, sort of the way the CIA used bin Laden's courier to lead them to him. (Again...Ladies and gentlemen, Johnny Cash.) But, in one of those completely plausible twists that happen all the time in the Bible, the Kings were warned about this in a dream and came back by an alternate route, and the Jesus family escaped to Egypt. When Herod learned he'd been duped, he had his troops slaughter every male child in Bethlehem.

In other words, the child - my child - who gets visited by the Kings (a) gets presents!! and (b) lives a safe and happy life (for 33 more years, anyway), revered literally as the Messiah, while everyone else's child is disemboweled by centurions. Really, can you think of a more Mexican holiday than that?


Fnarf said...

If my understanding of Mexican tradition is correct, Christmas doesn't really end until Candlemas, El Dia de la Candelaria, February 2, when all the people who've been toting around the giant dolls of the Babby Jesus since today take him to the cathedral to be blessed. Or is that just in Mexico City?

Burro Hall said...

You're correct. I'm just lying to myself because the thought of 28 more days of Christmas is too soul-crushing. Thanks for bringing it up...