Saturday, December 20, 2008

Myrrh Toothpaste and Gold Fillings: A Moriarty Christmas

My mom was a 2nd grade teacher throughout my childhood. She was adamant that anything entering our home be educational. We were not big consumers anyway, but at her insistence, we learned to value books and board games over electronics, "record albums," and most of what Target now sells. Between her legacy, years of home schooling and a veritable degree in autism training, I have developed a similar tendency to seek out games and toys that either strengthen social skills, improve proprioception, stimulate sequencing and reading comprehension, desensitize tactile aversion, or something.

Any purchase must pass through multiple filters. First, I must be able to justify it educationally. Then it must pass Reid's tough standards of being engaging and more entertaining than what he can conjure in his head. While Allie is our barometer on what is cool, pure fun or popularity is way down the list in my decision-making process. Instead, we evaluate based on whether the activity is visually motivating, offers concrete literal explanations, strengthens social skills, requires turn taking or develops critical thinking. We are loosening up now, but there was a time I purchased gifts based on how many IEP goals they addressed. I may have reached a compulsive level, you decide.

Our cupboards and closets are filled with specialized products from stores like The Therapy Shoppe, SuperDuper Publications and Timberdoodle. They are far superior actually, but not always kid pleasers on Christmas morning. In Christmases past, our living room has looked more like moving day at a Speech/OT clinic than any child's dream come true. The Mind Your Manners board game went over like a lead balloon. Allie rolls her eyes recalling a time Reid sent me to Toys R Us to pick up a specific TeleTubbies video he'd earned (by behaving appropriately at the grueling all day Saturday CYT rehearsals). Unfortunately for him, it was out of stock so I made an alternate selection: Mister Rogers' What Do You Do With the Mad that You Feel. Poor Reid, when I gave it to him he was too stunned to cry.

So it is, this Christmas, that I search for ways to make the Biblical reason for the season come to life in a concrete way in our home. Not with more stuff but with traditions and props that entertain while they educate about the historically significance of Christmas and the spiritual wonder. We are each giving 3 gifts to each other this year, dramatizing the three wise men who came bearing gifts to worship baby Jesus, the newborn King. You remember what they were: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Guess what I found at Trader Joe's? Myrrh toothpaste! Actually, it is myrrh, fennel, propolis toothpaste from Tom's. Wow, that is the perfect stocking stuffer or what? It meets all my criteria, with a hygiene component to boot. And it's gluten free so if the kids don't comply, Jim can use it! I bought a case. (Kidding:)) Allie was with me in the store. We ran across it as I granted her request for her own tube of toothpaste. "How bout this one? for Christmas!" I said in my glee at the discovery. "That's totally disgusting!!" she scoffed. Now, to show you how self-aware I am, I replied with a straight face, tongue in cheek, "What part don't you like--the propolis, the fennel or the myrrh?" At which, we both cracked up laughing. I did buy the stuff but, she is holding out for her own tube of Crest.

Jim is wondering if we're trying to secretly embalm him since we learned that myrrh was used to prepare bodies for burial in Jesus' day. The myrrh actually foreshadowed Jesus' death on the cross reminding us that He came with the expressed purpose of dying for us. Try that on for an attitude adjustment each morning and night at the mirror. These object lessons are as much for us as for the kids. Apparently Reid is not the only one in the house who takes things literally.

So yesterday I was at Jimbo's, our local whole foods grocery, and what to my wondering eyes did appear? But two bottles of aromatherapy oil in scents oh so dear! I sprung for the cheaper ones mixed with jojoba oil and now have an olfactory link to the ancient stable. Aura Cacia has got my number. They offer this object lesson-in-a-bottle with no seasonal marketing or fanfare just there for the taking, for those with eyes to see. They categorize the frankincense as "Sanctifying" and the myrrh as "Comforting" on the labels. I am using a few drops of it--in my car diffuser and lamp ring--to stimulate my Advent meditation before it gets popped into a stocking late Christmas Eve. It reminds me what the Bible says about our prayers reaching heaven like sweet incense and that we are the aroma of Christ to those around us. If you were a scent, which one would you be?

Gold, I thought would be easy. Although since Allie and I prefer silver, I am not going for the obvious jewelry choice. I am actually still on the hunt for a gold incense box or bauble to put the toothpaste in? Or not. Perhaps at Whole Foods I can find some gold leaf sprinkles for the Nativity gingerbread cookies we make next week when there is NO SCHOOL! I'll keep you posted. Gotta go find gold that is fit for a king, The King of Kings.

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Matthew 2:10-12

Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. Mark 15:22-24

These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-8

Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Deuteronomy 11:17-19 The Message

photo credit:,


  1. Beautiful and very entertaining to boot!

    Merry Christmas!

  2. Wow! And to think I was overly excited about the oreo-like cookies with pieces of peppermint that I found at Trader Joes. Your find was way cooler and holier and even gluten free! So how did the myrrh toothpaste go over?

    Thank you for that tidbit about the use of myrrh in burial preparation. Amazing. Our God left nothing out, did he?

  3. I think that's true. I've tried the natural remedies

    and supplements available at Rainbow Wellbeing

    ( and found them to be quite


  4. What does that taste like? The smell is kind of exotic, if you can stand it. Poor Jim, it must be torture! But at least it can still keep his teeth clean!