Wednesday, December 13: The Little Drummer Boy
I’ve always pictured the little drummer boy as a shepherd, taking his handmade drum out to the fields to help him stay awake on those overnight watches or possibly banging on it to call other shepherds or to scare the wolves and other predators away from the flock.
Perhaps he was part of the wise men’s caravan. I’ve read that the Magi traveled for several years following the astrological signs to find the promised king. Certainly, a journey of several years would have required the Magi to have servants with them to set up their camps and shepherds to tend the camels and other animals as they traveled.
Imagine the evening the wise men finally reach their destination, or the shepherds witness the angels’ magnificent song telling of the baby’s birth in a nearby town. Possibly the older shepherds would have fine animal skins or carved toys to gift the infant king. We know what the Magi brought; gold, frankincense, and myrrh; lavish, expensive gifts fit for a king.
But what of the little drummer boy? Feeling overwhelmed by what he is witnessing and sad that he has nothing of value to give baby Jesus. Maybe he shed some tears and started to walk way. Perhaps Mary knew this little drummer boy was not very different than the baby she held in her arms. She smiles at the drummer boy, gestures, and nods. The little drummer boy plays, he plays his very best song, a gift just for Jesus but everyone is watching and listening. Even the animals in the manger keep time wagging their tails, bleating, and mooing. Pa rum pum pum pum…
The song ends, the little drummer boy finally breathes and opens his eyes, daring to look at the newborn king for the first time. Baby Jesus, Savior for the world, giggles and smiles at the little drummer boy.
And in that smile the young drummer boy learns a lesson that two thousand years later we don’t fully understand or accept; that the best gifts cannot be bought and are not expensive. The best gift is the gift of self, being present to others, the gift of time together. Which, now that I think about it, is exactly what Jesus gave us.