As Charles moved the Wise Men from our Nativity scene closer to the crèche, I was reminded of a story about our friend Ril Thibodeau, of blessed memory.
Ril, along with her husband Bob, had a large family of twelve children (if I concentrate really hard, I can remember all of their names).
Ril told me once that as each of her children were born, she gave them a gift of a Nativity set for their very own. As the years progressed, and as the family grew, the Nativity sets were displayed around the house, and as Epiphany approached, the Wise Men from each set slowly made their way to their respective crèches.
One year, close to Epiphany, Charles and I were at the family home and saw the parade of Magi (36 of them!) scattered around the living room as they made their journey to the Christ Child.
We joked with our friend Therese (one of the five Thibodeau daughters) that they looked that they were on their way to a Wise Man convention and that Ril should put up a banner proclaiming: “National Association of Magi: Welcome Wise Men!”
But all joking aside, we realized that Ril had it exactly right. She recognized that her children were individuals and that they each deserved a chance to celebrate this holy feast in their own way.
I can imagine the sense of wonder that the children in the Thibodeau family had every year as they moved their own Three Kings closer to the baby Jesus.
Bob and Ril had a wonderful family and Juneau and Douglas (we mustn’t forget Douglas!) were (and still are) fortunate to have them among us.
We remember Bob and Ril so fondly and we pray that, together again in heaven, they can celebrate Epiphany together with the Holy Family and the Wise Men.