Why I Love the “Little Drummer Boy”

LittleDrummerBoy-BookIII know there are people who aren’t fans of the Christmas carol, “Little Drummer Boy.” I get it. The “pa rum pum pum pum” makes up the majority of the lyrics, and that can get a little old. But, still, this song makes me cry every time.

In the “Little Drummer Boy,” everyone is going to see the newborn Savior and bringing their finest gifts. The little drummer boy’s finest gift is a drum solo. Isn’t that the last thing a newborn (or a newborn’s parents) would want!?

Decidedly, not a great gift.

But, I think of me and the gifts I offer my Savior every day as I live my life. The gifts I lay before my Savior as I try daily to practice love, charity, and kindness often feel like the equivalent of a drum solo for a newborn.

Undeterred, the little drummer boy plays his best for his infant king. And, I’m always touched at the last line, “Then, he smiled at me…me and my drum.”

Since the policy against the children of gay parents came out last month, I have thought a lot about the gifts I want to give Jesus, my church, my family, and those who suffer because of this new policy. Early on, I asked ask myself, “Can I stay in a church that would deny children saving ordinances?”

As I’ve listened to the “Little Drummer Boy” this holiday season, I realize my question needs to be something else.

“Will my best gifts to my Savior come forth by staying or leaving?”

I don’t know the answer, but I do know that the work in thinking, praying, fasting, and opening myself up to exploring other religious communities is part of the gift that I give Him now, in this season.

I feel angry, sad, and want things to go back to the way they were before November 5th when I had such hope that we, as a church, were making progress in showing love and inclusion of all marginalized individuals. This journey is scary and uncertain. But, in quiet moments, I also know that He smiles at me and my drum.

May we feel our Savior smile on us and our imperfect gifts during this holiday season and always.


EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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9 Responses

  1. Jenny says:

    I love this! Especially this: “The gifts I lay before my Savior as I try daily to practice love, charity, and kindness often feel like the equivalent of a drum solo for a newborn.” I can definitely relate! And I feel your struggle.

  2. nate says:

    Wonderful and perfect

  3. Ziff says:

    I love this, Emily! Thanks for your reframing of the question, and for your new take on “Little Drummer Boy.”

  4. Caroline says:

    Beautiful and poignant, Emily. I’m sad that you and I and so many others are in this position now of asking whether our best gifts will come forth by staying or leaving.

  5. spunky says:

    This is my favourite carol, for the reasons you describe.

    I’m lucky to be too far removed to go to church regularly, so I haven’t felt as disturbed by this as others who have the investment of regular church attendance, teachings, and callings. But this distance also gives me some space to wonder if the church is becoming the great and spacious building we’ve been warned about, steeped in legal protectiveness, political alliance and corporate banking ideologies.

    Regardless, it is Christmas. So I play my drum. I think He can hear me.

  6. staci says:

    My stupid drum solo. The last thing that baby needs, but I am trying. Golly I love this piece. Thank you!

  7. Ron says:

    Thank you for caring about LGBT families. That, in and of itself, is a gift that I do not take for granted. Our best is usually found in our efforts of caring for others.

  8. Kathy w. says:

    I’ve never liked this song. But this different perspective makes me see something redeeming in it. Thanks.

  9. Liz says:

    I absolutely love this perspective on this song. Thanks, EmilyCC.

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