In 1941, inspired by French and English folk tales, Katherine Davis of St. Joseph, Missouri wrote a poem called “The Carol of the Drum.” The poem was translated into the familiar Christmas hymn, “Little Drummer Boy.”
In the lyrics a young boy is summoned by the Magi to go visit the infant Jesus in the manger. Those instructing him to come are laying before the infant their finest gifts. With nothing extravagant to offer the infant Jesus the boy arrives empty handed. Standing beside the manger, the little drummer says, “Little baby, I am a poor boy, too. I have no gift to bring that’s fit to give the king. Shall I play for you on my drum?”
The story concludes with the drummer boy saying, “I played my best for him and then he smiled at me.”
Christmas season can get pretty hectic. All the gift buying, family gatherings, business parties, and card sending can get stressful. The simplicity of the first Christmas has been replaced by the chaos of Christmas in 2012. The stress is brought on by trying to bring our best. Is every bulb burning on the Christmas tree? Does the pecan pie taste delicious? Is the gift the correct size? Are the party decorations all in place?
We can get so wrapped up in bringing our very best that we forget to bring ourselves. Busyness can be an excuse to just be present in the moment. The story of the drummer boy reminds us that we can all bring gifts of frankincense, myrrh, and gold – our stuff. But what makes God smile is when we bring ourselves. The greatest gift you can give someone this Christmas is the gift of yourself.