In the story of the Three Magi, or Three Wise Men, Three Kings from the East bring the newborn king of the Jews three "welcome to the world" gifts; they were gold, frankincense and myrrh.
When I first heard this story as a child, I immediately thought, "C'mon, frankincense and myrrh, what kind of lame gift is that?" The magi who brought the gold, now he was obviously tuned in to the mind of a kid.
Frankincense and myrrh are two different types of incense, with different properties and purposes, but totally useless to a child.
As a child, I remember my mom used to burn incense all the time. Sometimes my house would smell like a gypsy brothel (not that I know what that smells like), that I would often come home from school, enter the house and want to vomit, feeling totally nauseated. Of course, school also made me feel nauseated, so home was no escape when Mom was burning the incense.
Now as an adult, and more so as a parent, I look at the story of the three kings in a different light. Yet, I still find myself asking the same questions as I did as a child. Why Frankincense? Wouldn't a rattle be more appropriate? Or perhaps a month's supply of cloth diapers? What's a crying baby going to do with ceremonial incense?
Well, science has the answer I've been searching for. It seems that Frankincense, which is derived from the dried up resin of the Boswellia plant, can alleviate anxiety and depression by activating poorly understood ion channels in the brain. In other words, when you burn this shit, it really calms you down and makes you chill out.
As the parent of two toddlers, I can't tell you how many times I wished that there were some magic pill I could legally give my kids for a few moments of peace and quiet. If only I had known about Frankincense. If only my wife didn't hate the smell of incense.
It's obvious now that King Balthasar didn't bring Jesus the frankincense; the gift was for Joseph and Mary. I'm sure Balthasar said, "Look, this boy may be the son of God, but he's still going to get gas at night and keep you up with his teething, so just keep this stuff handy." Now you see why they called him a wise man.
So let me share with you the same wisdom, here. If you are expecting, or you know someone who's got a bun in the oven, don't buy the child some elitist, classical music CD that's supposed to make him/her smarter than their peers. Instead, get the parents a box of frankincense. It's the legal marijuana for parents. If they feel guilty about giving their children or themselves anti-anxiety agents, just tell them that they are simply following a tradition set forth in the little town of Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. Amen.
Frankincense makes sense, and you can get it here.