Why The Little Drummer Boy Matters

Christmas Ornaments, Lynn Wright, 2010

I like to ask myself questions.  I do this all of the time.  “Self, what is it that you want to eat tonight?”  “Self, what are you going to do about the rats running rampant in your attic?”  “Self, don’t you have something “more productive” that you should be doing?”  On and on the questions go.  My mind never stops… a random list of endless questions.  This randomness has led me to my current question concerning the meaning of Christmas. What does Christmas mean to me?

When I was young, I loved all of the gift giving associated with Christmas not to mention the anticipation of what Santa Clause was going to leave me.  Of course, I never knew whether that was going to be  “a sack of coal and long black switches” (yes you heard me correctly) OR whether I was, in fact, going to be receiving at least one thing on my VERY LONG LIST of  “I WANTS!”   SIDE NOTE: I never got the sack of coal and switches!   I must have been better than what I thought, or my parent’s decided to have mercy on me.  Either way, I had plenty when I awoke on Christmas day.

As an adult, It is so much fun revisiting those feelings of anticipation and wonder and seeing them anew written on the faces of my own dear children. What impresses me the most is how magical it all seems to be for them and for me, even still.  Ordinary, daily routines evolve into blissful hopefulness.  The season is delirious with possibilities.

It’s the possibilities, the anticipation, the hopefulness that I have carried into my adulthood.  One of my all time favorite Christmas songs is The Little Drummer Boy.  Though there is no historic or scientific evidence, I imagine the little drummer boy to be one of the shepherds keeping watch over his flock. I imagine the young boy sees a bright star in the sky, and because he knows the ancient folklore, I imagine him to set out on his journey to greet the newborn baby King.

This young boy takes with him nothing but the two things that matter most to him, his drum and his voice.  When he arrives at his destination the boy, after seeing the many precious gifts given to the baby Jesus, decides he has nothing to give in honor of the baby.

“I am a poor boy too, pa rum pump um pum.  I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum That’s fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,”

It’s as if he remembers in an “ah ha” moment that he does have one thing he can give… a song played on his drum.  The boy’s gift is a gift from his heart…. He plays a song for the baby King and watches as all that surrounds him moves to the beat of his drum.  The last verse,   “Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum, Me and my drum.”

What an excellent gift!  No gift could have been more excellent than the simple need to share his gift with another.   Can’t you just imagine the look on that little drummer boy’s face when his King looked up at him and smiled a smile that had written all over it, “ BEAUTIFUL, WELL DONE, BEAUTIFUL!”

In this particular scene painted by this particular songwriter we have the celebration of the miracle of Life.  It is celebrated by the giving of gifts, no matter how great or small.  It is celebrated with family and those that were previously unknown.  It is celebrated by man and animal alike.  Here we have a picture of Peace, Love, Hope, and Harmony.

As I watch my 6-year-old fill our tree with numerous boxes of things she has made to give to me and to those special others in her life, I will remember The Little Drummer Boy and the importance of giving and receiving from the heart.  It might be that this one act alone (giving and receiving from the heart) is the greatest gift God has given mankind.  It’s  been my experience, and I know the experience of others, that giving a gift, is in fact, a  gift that keeps on giving .


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