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(This is Part 5 of 5, of ‘The Way of Three Mothers at Christmas‘)
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My other two mothers, the ones whose stories have been told, were Rida and Ada. Naturally, following my rather far-fetched reasoning process, these names came from the Magi.

the Armenians have Kagpha, Badadakharida and Badadilma

Rida from Badadakharida; Ada from Badadilma.

I’ve saved the name Kagpha for my ‘real’ mother. It suits her well.

As Christmas approached each year, Kagpha grew slightly more frozen than usual. Thanksgiving was a task managed, but then Christmas arrived so quickly.

The important things about Christmas to Kagpha were that it not be celebrated as a religious holiday (for she did not like churches) and that there be a tree – one that was not real (too messy) – and that it be covered with ornaments that were artistic and ‘different’.

She mostly looked forward to the holiday as a time when there would be the chance to travel home, or to where home was as a child – where her brother and his wife and children lived. This took all pressure off the holiday, for her brother’s wife was (as she noted with a certain tone in her voice) a ‘housewife’. This meant that Kagpha would be able to sit on the couch in her more and more frozen-like state, as the activity went on around her, without her participation.

Kagpha may have suffered from depression. Or, it may also have been what her brother claimed: That she was simply a deeply selfish person.

Things got worse than mere frozen-ness, as Christmas came along over the years. Instead of frozen-ness Kagpha had a sense of airy-ness – as if she simply wasn’t there. Then there was a switch, and Christmas-time became a time to celebrate the season as a Wiccan. My mother had decided she was a witch.

She gathered women around her for pagan lunches and dinners, and flaunted jewelry with bold symbols hung over her black dresses that would make those who practiced more traditional religions cringe with fear and distaste. Her anger grew outward.

But these times passed, and being a witch turned out to be not all it was chalked up to be, for Kagpha. The pagan celebrations were discarded, and in their place was nothing.

The last Christmas I remember with Kagpha, she said she did not want to cook. She did not want to buy presents. She did not want to do anything, she said – but the undertones in her voice belied the words.

So I made a dinner. A ham, some vegetables – fresh and good. Two desserts. And I brought it to Kagpha and hoped it would make her happy.

It did, but then there was the ham bone to deal with. The ham bone. Kagpha wanted to know if I wanted the ham bone. Why, yes – I said. I’ll take it home with me next time I see you, if that’s okay. I don’t really feel like carrying a ham bone home right now. Could you stick it in the freezer?

Kagpha’s freezer was empty but for two packages of Stouffer’s Welsh Rarebit, so I thought that would be okay.

But the ham bone was not to be forgotten. The ham bone was in her freezer, and it bothered her. The phone calls started coming every few days, then every day, then several times a day.

When are you coming to get the ham bone? Kagpha would ask. The ham bone is in my freezer! she would say, with hints of anger at the edges of her voice. How long do you expect me to keep this here???!!! she would close-to-shriek, over the telephone – the telephone which I now feared to answer.

Gathering my courage to face Kagpha, my mother, my only real mother – I called her. Please throw it away, I said. I don’t want it. Thanks, for the freezer space.

Christmas. It had come down to a ham bone which had somehow transformed into a scapegoat, for Kagpha.

Kagpha’s gift offered was the chance to develop empathy. There is often someone around who may need it.
………………………………………………………………………………

Each mother has a Christmas food associated with her. Rida: Sausage Bread. Ada: A dish of rich delicious bitter greens with garlic. Kagpha: Well – nothing will ever erase that ham bone from my memory, that is certain.

I’ve had three mothers at Christmas. I’ve been lucky in that way.

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(This is Part Two of ‘The Way of Three Mothers at Christmas’)

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The word Magi is a Latinization of the plural of the Greek word magos (μαγος pl. μαγοι), itself from Old Persian maguŝ from the Avestan moγu. The term is a specific occupational title referring to the priestly caste of Zoroastrianism. As part of their religion, these priests paid particular attention to the stars, and gained an international reputation for astrology, which was at that time a highly regarded science. Their religious practices and use of astrological sciences caused derivatives of the term Magi to be applied to the occult in general and led to the English term magic.*

Magic does exist. It exists at the edges of things, in curved angles and tiny corners.

You can see it in a fleeting spark and remember it for years.

I have to give my three mothers new names. Three mothers, three Magi.

In the Eastern church a variety of different names are given for the three, but in the West the names have been settled since the 8th century as Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. These derive from an early 6th century Greek manuscript in Alexandria.[2] The Latin text Collectanea et Flores[3] continues the tradition of three kings and their names and gives additional details. This text is said to be from the 8th century, of Irish origin.

In the Eastern churches, Ethiopian Christianity, for instance, has Hor, Karsudan, and Basanater, while the Armenians have Kagpha, Badadakharida and Badadilma.[4][5] One of these names is obviously Persian, although Caspar is also sometimes given as Gaspar or Jasper. One candidate for the origin of the name Caspar appears in the Acts of Thomas as Gondophares (AD 21 – c.AD 47), i.e., Gudapharasa (from which ‘Caspar’ might derive as corruption of ‘Gaspar’). This Gondophares declared independence from the Arsacids to become the first Indo-Parthian king and who was allegedly visited by Thomas the Apostle. Christian legend may have chosen Gondofarr simply because he was an eastern king living in the right time period.

In contrast, the Syrian Christians name the Magi Larvandad, Gushnasaph, and Hormisdas. These names have a far greater likelihood of being originally Persian, though that does not, of course, guarantee their authenticity.*

Caspar, Melchior, Balthasar. Hor (no), Karsudan (no – reminds me of the Kardashians), Basanter. Kagpha (dramatic!), Badadakharida (musical), Badadilma. Larvandad, Gusnasaph, Hormisdas.

That’s a lot to work with.

Which would you choose, for three new names for three mothers at Christmas, if you had to choose?

Names are important. This needs to be thought out.

(*Source: Wikipedia)

(To read further click on Part Three here)

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I’ve had three mothers at Christmas, in my life.

Like the Three Wise Men, each mother had a different precious gift they carried along to offer. These gifts were not for a child as invested in hope and wonder as the one we think of as being born on Christmas Eve. The gifts they offered were for their own children – imperfect though those children may have been in actuality or in promise.

One mother was my own. One was the mother of the first man I married. And one was the mother of the second man I took a chance on marrying.

Yet they were my mothers, too.

I was lucky in that way.

I’ll tell you about their gifts, the gifts each one offered for this season. Each one was so very different.

This will be a Christmas story. Of some sort.
I wonder if any of you will recognize yourself (or your own mother) in my three mothers.

(To read further, click on Part Two here)

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