Friday, December 13, 2013

What e'er thou art

I found this "LDS perpetual advent calendar" online (in a news "article," (or "news" article" (I'm not quite sure where to put those quotation marks) of all places) and printed it off so we could read a nice little story every day before Christmas. It's been nice so far but Andrew and I have already determined to make our own perpetual calendar for next year (or, at the rate I complete projects the year after (or even the year after that)). We'd prefer if the scripture/quote actually went along somewhat with the theme of the story. And we'd prefer if all the stories were...I dunno...fact checked.

The story for December 1st paid homage to a thoroughly debunked article claiming that The Twelve Days of Christmas was written as a way to secretly teach the catechism of the Catholic church to young English children after King Henry the Eighth caused the creation of a new church because he "wanted to sin and have a church justify his actions," which is a gross simplification of the whole situation. Catholics weren't banned from practicing their religion until after the death of King Henry, anyway, so I'm not sure why they're blaming him for that (as unsavory a character he may have been).

So, the story for December 1st annoyed me, and the story about candy canes, and Andrew skipped "The Three Trees," which I think is a sweet story (because it openly admits to being a folktale and makes no pretentious claims about being "the true meaning" of this or that) but is one that he just can't stand.

We also didn't like that they put the story of Joseph Smith's last Christmas on December 22nd rather than on December 23rd (which is his birthday). I mean, had they put it on December 7th I wouldn't have thought anything of it, but to put it the day before his birthday rather than right on it? That just looks like a mistake. There are rules for this sort of thing: if you're going to be off, be way off so that it looks like you did it on purpose. If you're so close but just a little off it looks like a glaring error.

And don't even get me started on the typesetting (crazy hyphenation all over the place).

I'm sure I sound rather picky now. But the truth is we have been enjoying reading the story each night. Most of the stories come from church magazines and are faith promoting and teach good lessons.

But the annoying ones are so annoying—some sort of theologic neologism. Take "The True Meaning of the Snowman," for example, which I saw in a catalogue once (and which you can see here). I find that sort of thing ridiculous. A snowman is a snowman. Ahem. Anyway...

Tonight's story was fairly interesting. It was called "Gifts for a Newborn King" by Geraldine A. Garretson, and was originally printed in The Friend in December 1992. While a little orientalist in nature, it was a well-researched article and was presented well for a young audience. Our girls were captivated, especially since we have a little box full of frankincense and myrrh sitting out by one of our nativities.

Our interest was piqued, however, when Andrew read this part: "'Myrrh, whose name means "bitter," comes from the Commiphora myrrha tree.' Myrrh means bitter?" Andrew asked. "Is that true? Are Miriam and myrrh from the same root?"

Turns out, they very well could be. We knew that Miriam meant bitter (and in fact battled with this knowledge for a while because who names their child 'bitter'? (Probably the same people who name their firstborn after livestock.)) we just hadn't linked the root of the word to myrrh (which does, in fact, mean bitter).

Miriam was thrilled to bits over this newfound knowledge, completely over the moon. Ecstatic, really.

She is in the Christmas story. She has her own tree. She was a gift for baby Jesus. Could her life get any better? Probably not!

"Big deal," Rachel said. "My name means sheep. Sheep are in the Christmas story, too."

And thus a gloriously hilarious scene unfolded in our living room, wherein Rachel bleated unceasingly while Miriam did her best to enact sap oozing out of a Commiphora myrrha tree.

What e'er thou art, kids, Act well thy part.


  1. Hahahahaaaaaaaaaaaa! I love that. So stinkin' cute!

    Hey, my name means lily so maybe I can be part of Easter. :)

    I enjoy hearing about your family life!

  2. Speaking of name meanings I always thought Caleb was nice, but not so much the "dog" meaning. Even my Arab friend laughs at that one and does not understand why we give it to our children since, well, dogs.