Merry Christmas! I hope that those within the reach of my voice feel safe and loved this Holiday Season. It’s a wonderful time of year to re-connect with all we hold dear.
Last night our family celebrated the holiday in our usual way, very simple and quiet, with a reading of the first Christmas, followed by a drive through our little town to take in streets and streets of glittering Christmas lights. I made a special effort to think about the symbols of Christmas and how wonderful it is that so many bear testimony of our Savior by decorating their homes for others to enjoy. I understand not all can decorate. It’s for this reason a humble wreath hanging is just as glorious to me. A wreath can symbolize the crown of thorns placed on our Savior’s head while on the cross, and the circle and the evergreen pine needles can remind us of eternal life.
I shared on social media this morning my favorite Christmas song, The little Drummer Boy. I share it annually, different versions, depending on what I am feeling that day. Each artist brings a different mood and perspective to the story. This song has been my favorite since I was a young child. I can remember lying underneath our tree of colored lights, listening to the scratchy music coming from our very old, wooden, mustard yellow record player. I often pictured, in my little girl mind, the meek, young boy approaching the new baby Jesus, who in actuality, was the “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords,” and would be called “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” I wished it had been me that visited that night!
I relate to this little boy! I did as a child and I have as an adult. I have, from an early age, understood who the Savior was and have also been drawn to him. I have certainly felt unsure of myself and have wondered if what I had was enough and I have shared his circumstance of being a “poor boy too.” I have come to Him shyly and have been accepted. I have felt the incredible joy that only His smile can bring.
Interestingly, this song was first titled Carol of the Drum and was written by the American classical music composer Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941. It was first recorded by the Trapp Family Singers in 1951. I believe it is not a coincidence that my all time favorite movie has been The Sound of Music – the story of the Von Trapps. I love the Von Trapp’s life story. I admire their love, their courage and their gift of music they gave to the world. In 1958 the song, The Little Drummer Boy, was made popular by a recording by the Harry Simeone Chorale. This would be the version I listened to over and over again as I imagined myself bringing, with some concern, my gifts to the baby King. I oftentimes wondered what my own offering could be. What was mine to give?
I am aware that this song is only an artist’s depiction of a boy coming to know and love the Savior. But it is not SIMPLY an artist’s depiction. I believe Ms. Kennicott was inspired to write it. It’s a beautiful and powerful lesson on who the Savior is and what brings Him the most joy.
The Little Drummer Boy deeply touches me. It REACHES me. Have you felt that someone you just met knows you? Do you believe one can know your life experiences although you’ve never spent time together? Have you been understood even without words? I cannot explain this phenomena, but I know it is real. I’m confident I’m not alone in the feeling that this song was written about me, maybe even for me. Other’s may feel it was for them, or they may feel they are a part of another song. It’s an incredible feeling to have inspired art be so moving and influential in one’s life.
The little drummer boy is a story about a young boy who was taught about the Savior of the world, and was called to see Him – to be a part of Him.
“Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum.
A newborn King to see, pa rum pum pum pum.”
He showed simple faith in making the decision to go and in taking the small trip to see Him. He was unsure of what to bring the baby, but he knew others were bringing their “finest gifts.”
“Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum.
To lay before the King pa rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum.”
“So, to honor Him pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.”
With some hesitancy it seems, but with an even deeper confidence that drove him, and a desire to honor Him too, he approached the Savior. He ponders his own situation and realizes he has no gifts that are equal to the offerings of those around him, but still, he moves forward with faith, feeling the significance of the baby, and noticing His humble circumstance. In quiet awe, and with a possible realization that he can relate to this baby in more ways than that of a King, he speaks.
“Little baby, pa rum pum pum pum.
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum.
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum,
That’s fit to give a King, pa rum pum pum pum,
Rum pa pum pum, rum pum pum pum.”
Then, feeling safe, and at peace, he quietly asks:
“Shall I play for you pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?”
Mary, the pure, sweet, mother of Jesus, seeing the little boy, and recognizing his gift is a gift from the deepest part of his heart, Nods.
Pa rum pum pum pum.”
The animals around him, I believe symbolizing nature and purity also, are aware of his song, and they not only approve and enjoy the beautiful gift, but they join in! I think this depicts how we are all connected to the Savior and we all rejoice in Him. And, when we share our gifts we are sharing love. This beautifies, and rejuvenates ourselves as well as others. We are all part of a bigger picture – we ARE connected and we are all needed to help others to feel joy!
“The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum.
I played my drum for Him pa rum pum pum pum,
Then, It happens. He learns. He feels the power of the Savior and the influence of the Holy Ghost as he is able to feel the music and the love of our Savior. His ability and confidence grows and he is able to play his best – to GIVE his best. And he is rewarded.
“I played MY BEST FOR HIM, PA RUM PUM PUM PUM,
RUM PUM PUM PUM, RUM PUM PUM PUM!”
Finally, his gift is accepted and he knows. It is enough. I am enough.
“Then, He smiled at me pa rum pum pum pum,
Me and my drum. “
We are enough! What Joy! And our sincere gifts are accepted. All God asks of us is to give our best of what we have and who we are. He knows what this is, as it is He who has bestowed it upon us. When we show our faith by coming when called, by meekly approaching the Savior, He will surely show us His happiness at our offering. He will smile upon us as he did in the story of the little drummer boy. We are loved and we are needed. I am thankful for my unique gifts that I have to offer. While they are not the type that are celebrated by the world, they are not costly, nor do they bring wealth, they are real, they are good, and they are mine. What means the most to me, is that I know, that they are accepted – with a smile.