Finding Comfort: 3 kings are one lovely legacy

My Christmas spirit is a gift of the Magi

Special to the Herald-LeaderDecember 9, 2008 


    Allie Olson is a 27-year-old pursuing all things creative. To pay the bills, she serves at Bellini's restaurant in Lexington and Jack Fry's in Louisville. A Wisconsin native, she is proud now to call Kentucky home. She has enjoyed writing since she was young and continues to do so in commentary, prose and poetry. You can find her blog at


    The holiday season tends to encourage personal journeys and quests that we rarely indulge in at other times of the year. We want to hear your stories about a personal journey you have taken or plan to take.

    It should be a journey — whether real, figurative, emotional or spiritual — that has helped you find or should help you find something that gives meaning to the holiday, be it about family, peace, joy, remembrance, solace, faith or each other. It can be a retelling of simpler times, of a single memory, of a banquet of days, a wish for the future or something of your path's own choosing. Think of it as a meditation on the themes of the holidays. It can be poignant, melancholy, happy, sad, funny or irreverent, but it must be unique and personal.

    Your essay must be true and well-written, preferably told in the first person, and it should be a maximum of 600 words. Prose and poetry will be considered. Previously published works will not be accepted.

    We'll publish the best submissions in the Herald-Leader print edition and online throughout the holidays.

    E-mail your submissions to with the subject line "Holiday essay."

    To submit by mail, send entries to Holiday Essay, Lexington Herald-Leader, c/o Features Department, 100 Midland Avenue, Lexington, Ky. 40508.

    You must include your name, age, where you live and a daytime telephone number. This is not a contest, and no prizes will be awarded. No payment will be given.

    The deadline for receipt is Dec. 12, but early submission is encouraged.

In our holiday series “Finding ...,” the Herald-Leader has invited readers and writers to share the story of a personal quest or journey they're taking this holiday season. This is the second in the occasional series.

Maybe it was the jewels in their headpieces or the varying colors of their beards. It might have been the trusty sound that came from secretly twisting the copper knob sticking out of the middle man's back, and the fact that my grandmother collected these contraptions.

I can't tell you exactly the reason why my Three Wise Men music box figurine is as close to magic as it gets.

Each December, my mom would haul the cardboard boxes marked “Christmas” out of storage and begin decorating the house. As a child, I loved pulling each treasure from its home and adoring the ornament, statue or wreath I'd forgotten.

As much as each delighted me, there was still only one in particular that made bells ring in my ears and snowflakes fall in front of my eyes — those Three Wise Men.

They stand almost a foot high, are stuck together like Siamese triplets, each a different color, carrying their own gift for the blessed child. And, of course, they play We Three Kings.

I'm sure they were made in some 1970s ceramic crafts class, and you might even have one like it in your home. But these details are insignificant to me, because out of everything my mother owns, this was the one thing I wanted to inherit.

A few years ago, my mother parted with the music box and bestowed it into my ownership. I can't exactly remember why; maybe she was just tired of wrapping it up in newspaper every January. She probably just knew it would be well taken care of. And it is. Those Wise Men, along with a beat-up old teddy bear named Twinkles and my dog Igby, are my most important treasures.

And this year the Wise Men bring me an extra special warmth and sense of security.

As I write this (and the music box plays), I'm homeless, couch surfing with friends and at my boyfriend's mother's house. I travel among three cities for two jobs. I'm stressed out and overwhelmed. My belongings are spread around many garages, and each day is a struggle to keep going.

I am writing this on the day before Thanksgiving and I sit in the dark in a silent room. I knew my spirits needed lifting. Perhaps miraculously, my music box was in the basement of this house. So I crawl out of bed, find my lifelong treasure and feel better.

During our country's economic crisis, I'm thankful for many things. I have the greatest friends and family I could ask for and know without a doubt that they deeply love me. I'm employed and healthy. I can see hope in the future.

But at this minute, as I pause to make a few more turns of the middle Wise Man's secret key, I'm most thankful for one thing. The jewels don't sparkle like they used to, but thankfully, Christmas tradition and joy do.

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