As I set up the creche this week, it occurred to me, as it does almost every year, that no one has ever asked me why there are five kings.

P1010187The reason is that two sets have been combined, one we had in my childhood at home, and a second smaller one my mother got when we found ourselves in Rome for most of a year when I was twelve.

P1010183So there are not only extra kings, there are two Marys and two Josephs.  It’s interesting to note the fixed iconography of these figures.  Though their poses differ, their clothes match: Joseph in white and brown, Mary in pink and blue, with a white head covering.  And all the figures are on green bases, as if they were out in a field.

It’s easy to deal with the extra Mary and Joseph.  They become the innkeeper and his wife.  Has anyone told this story from the perspective of the Innkeeper’s wife?  I’m not aware of any, but it seems a logical extension.

P1010185The proper question then, should not be “Why are there five kings” but “Why aren’t there six?”  How did one get lost?  I have no idea.  And I wonder if anyone has ever done a story about a king getting lost (not, like Monty Python, sending them all to the wrong house).  What would become of the astrologer who read the stars differently and went off in another direction?  What might he discover?

The best classic stories offer new avenues to explore.