1. It looks like the squirrel already explained it: Return the frankincense and myrrh but I’ll take the gold off your hands!

    I’ve imagined the conversation between the wise men and Joseph:

    Magus 1: My gift is gold. It symbolizes royalty.

    Joseph: Good, good. Gold is always an excellent gift.

    Magus 2: My gift is frankincense. It symbolizes holiness.

    Joseph: Frankincense? What the heck is frankincense?

    Magus 2: It’s a kind of incense. It’s very valuable.

    Joseph: Good, good. Your frankincense is welcome.

    Magus 3: My gift is myrrh. It symbolizes death and the tomb.

    Joseph: Death and the tomb? What the heck kind of gift is that for a baby? Get out of here! Come back when you’ve learned something from your friends here!

  2. Pretty much. I guess the wisemen didn’t keep the receipts so they had to exchange in person instead of the gift receivers

  3. Something I posted on another comics-related list a few years ago (replying to someone else’s “You kids” etc. gag:

    “You kids need any myrrh? No? No one ever wants the myrrh. Why did we
    even bring it?”

    Especially since we had to shlepp it all this way. Admittedly it’s not as heavy
    as gold, but still. My saddlebags still smell funny. Couldn’t we just
    have brought gift certificates instead, like Gaspar suggested? Then the Kid
    could have picked what color and flavor he wanted, too! I mean, what if He
    doesn’t like wormwood-flavored myrrh? I know it’s the most popular, but
    some people are allergic.

  4. Well, I for one am just going to rack this up to incompetence. It’s clear the joke is “hah, hah, what if the gift of the magi were returned in a department store gift return line” and that’s all it was meant to be.
    But to even attempt to make such a joke the *everyone* has tought of a gazillion times before deserves a D minus for effort and originality at best. And to completely *botch* it such a fundamental way (why would the people *giving* the gift return them???) Is so incompetent as to be almost incomprehensible.

  5. Shrug: Oh, you’re putting all the blame on Balthazar? He must have insisted that no, Caspar’s suggestion of a gift certificate wouldn’t do, and it was essential that actual myrrh be brought.

    Actually, I quite liked Melchior’s complaint.

  6. Despite the logical failures, I thought this comic was unusually good, but only because I first saw it on a small screen, which chopped it off at foot level. I really liked the stoic expressions on both sides. Then I scrolled down, saw the putrid comment from that infernal squirrel, and realized that the reason people follow “Reality Check” is exactly the same as why people still read “Funky Winkerbean”: it’s simply pathological masochism.

  7. Hmmm…. Do some people sometimes when they receive a gift they can’t use have the *giver* return them? The giver has the receipt and knows where it was bought an this we they price need not be revealed. But it seems awkward. And a burden on the giver.

  8. I agree. When I submitted it, I had two thoughts due to the fact that the GIVERS were in the returns line:
    1) Despite having a guiding star, and because they refused to ask directions, they never made it to the stable and went back home. They probably had more than enough gold, incense and myrrh at home, so they are returning what they’d bought for the child.
    2) The journey was so long; again, no GPS, refusal to ask directions, that they lost their faith, returned home and same ending as above.

  9. I don’t really have a problem with the magi being in line: Clearly the frankincense and myrrh have been rejected as inappropriate gifts, and they’ve gone back to get something better. Rejecting a gift is kind of an offensive thing to do, but some gifts are so inappropriate that that is the reaction, and the comic’s conceit is that is what happened here.

    But why are all three magi in line? The gold was perfectly acceptable. It seems like there should be only two of them. Maybe the third magus could have been waiting for them to complete their returns, triumphant with his own successful gift.

  10. “Magus 3: My gift is myrrh. It symbolizes death and the tomb.”

    Actually, myrrh is a medicinal herb with natural antiseptic and analgesic properties. It symbolizes healing. I’ve heard it argued that it was probably the most valuable of the gifts.

  11. While that is interesting, Pete, the myrrh given by the magi is generally understood to symbolize the tomb, presumably because myrrh and aloe were used to wrap the bodies of the dead. Here’s how myrrh is characterized in We Three Kings:

    “Myrrh is mine; its bitter perfume
    Breathes a life of gathering gloom;—
    Sorrowing, sighing,
    Bleeding, dying,
    Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.”

  12. Or maybe the magi didn’t like the presents they received, couldn’t get a refund (no receipt…) and then decided to dump them on Jesus.

  13. Okay – a question that perhaps someone can answer – I have a set of ceramic nativity figures (bears of course). One of the three kings has a strong box so he has the gold. The other two seem to have canisters decorative ceramic jars or spice shakers. How does one know which is frankincense and which is myrrh?

  14. The frankincense has the bolts on the neck of the canister…

    And did you know it is actually Dr. Frankincense’s spice?

    And that it’s available now for a limited time as a tooth paste flavor?

    And the myrrh is the one you can see yourself in…

  15. Pete, no joke, that sounds like a perfect gift to bring to a Jewish baby who’s about to be circumcized.

  16. Bill – Jesus’s bris was on New Year’s Day of course. Good planning for when he was born or when it was decided same should be.

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