Rum pum pum pum…rum pum pum pum…. goes the drum of the Little Drummer Boy, one of my favorite Christmas specials of all time. You probably know it as well as I do. I’ve watched it every year since I was a little girl, and many times over with my growing boys.
The poor little drummer boy is an orphan and mad at the world because of it. His only companions are the animals he travels with, and a scowl toward all human kind. When by chance he meets a traveling caravan he follows them to Bethlehem where he has a first glimpse at a very special baby in a manger. He doesn’t know exactly what the fanfare is about, but the star and the crowd tell him there is something very special going on.
To me, the crux of the story lies in the desperate, heartfelt moment when the little boy, desiring to give a gift of thanks to the baby King, decides he has only one thing: his music and the sound of his beating drum, pa rum pum pum pum. “I have no gift to bring, to lay before the King.” But in the end, it is his simple offering of a gentle patting on his rudimentary drum that brings glory and honor and thanks to the King of Kings.
As I seek to mesh the pure beauty of that moment with the modern American culture and its never-ending quest for “stuff,” especially at the holidays, I came upon my own “a-ha” moment. I do not seek to negate the value of giving gifts, as the tradition is supposed to mimic that of the wise men to the baby. I love the symbolism of that.
Their gifts were priceless sacrifices in their day, costly to them and their kingdoms, albeit not something that is of use to an infant in particular. The drummer boy had no earthly collateral, so he gave his gift, a simple return of a talent to the One who supplied the gift in the first. The baby welcomed both. So, what can I glean from this and how can I apply it to my own modern-day Christmas giving?
First, I want to give with intent. Checking a box is not a reason to give someone a gift, although I do it often. Instead, I want to give out of love, admiration, and thanks. I want to be a joyful giver.
Secondly, I want to give gifts of sacrifice. I know that not all gifts are material, and not everyone places personal value on material gifts no matter what season it is. For example, my friend Carol could care less if I send her a gift, no matter how well thought-out or expensive. She would rather have me all to herself for a girl’s weekend during the year so we can reconnect and giggle away our stress. I, on the other hand, love gifts, and Carol always makes an effort to find something she knows I will love (which I always do.)
So this year I am going to try to employ Gary Chapman‘s Five Languages of Love in my gift-giving. To some, the best gift you can give is a letter of praise and encouragement (a gift that can keep on giving…I have some tucked away from ten years ago that I reread when I need a boost!) To others, it is the gift of quality time spent over a meal or coffee. Others prefer acts of service, so their ideal gift might be a commitment to babysit, do your taxes, or help with yard work occasionally. To many, the best gift is physical affection in the form of a hug, a foot rub, or , well, you get the idea. In this age of multi-tasking and world-wide interconnection, the gift of time and uninterrupted devotion is more precious than ever. Write up a simple card that says “redeem this for one hour of interrupted face time at the time of your choosing. Reservations required!” You can wrap it up, or put use it as a special stocking stuffer!
So, consider these gifts as you make out your list this year, because “stuff” doesn’t cut it for everyone, and the idea behind gifts in the first place can get lost if we are non-intentional. The best part of this? A foot rub or a paragraph of glowing praise doesn’t cost a thing! It is the plan for our economic times if ever there was one, so use it to the fullest. You may never go back, no matter what the stock market does!
So, be intentional, be sacrificial, and tailor your gift to the person on your list with what they want most. And then, don’t forget to honor it with all your heart! Because in the end, that’s what the little drummer boy offered with pure abandon to the newborn Christ child: his heart. And that is the very best gift of all.
What gift do YOU bring….pa rum pum pum pum…….