One of my favorite Christmas songs has always been “The Little Drummer Boy,” and I’m really not sure why. As a child, I played it in one of my winter piano recitals. I’m not sure if I selected the song because I connected with the harmonies and lyrics or if I thought it would be easy to memorize; the true reason is most likely a which came first, the chicken or the egg scenario. Through (forced) daily practice (thanks, Mom), it wasn’t long before I memorized the lyrics.
While few serious Christmas carols are written from a child’s point of view, I remember identifying with “The Little Drummer Boy” and his desire to present a suitable gift to the baby King, but recognizing he had nothing of material worth to give. I mean, he’s just a kid without easy access to gold or frankincense; how could a gift from a poor boy ever measure up or make a difference in the eyes of the world? Bravely, he didn’t let it stop him from seeking the King. He took his talent to Bethlehem, played his drum, and was rewarded with a smile from the baby King. The fact that the little drummer boy’s gift wasn’t a gift to leave behind and had no monetary value isn’t lost on me. I love the simple message that using our God given talents is what pleases the King. Ohhh, how we over complicate.
In the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, I find it easy to get wrapped up (pun intended) in the details, and often find my focus on all the tasks I have to accomplish to achieve the picture perfect holiday, instead of on the wonder of the glorious gift of a baby King. I find it sad, but ironic that during the time the world celebrates the birth of the Christ child, my focus is often anywhere but there.
Am I the only one who plays the comparison game and attributes value to how well decorated my home is compared to others, the number of presents under the tree, and who is (or isn’t) around my holiday table? I bet I’m not the only one who allows self- or culturally-induced pressures to skew my feelings. When I’m in this unbalanced state, my focus becomes insular. I become hyper-focused on me, what I need to get accomplished, or on my selfish desires that at times I get grumpy and dissatisfied with areas of my life where I feel I’m lacking.
As the father of one of my friends used to say, “if the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” Busy, for me, creates a void of the only thing I desperately need to restore balance, unhurried time in prayer and meditating on scripture. This act of discipline forces me to quiet my spirit and focus on the eternal King, which in turn causes me to remember that what fuels my soul isn’t parties, presents, or finding the perfect outfit; it’s simply about seeking the King and using my gifts to bless others – just like the little drummer boy did.