Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Simplest of Gifts

The Simplest of Gifts

Let’s play Let’s Pretend – after all, we are headed toward Christmas, and what better time than now to pretend, no matter our ages.

You go and grab the coffee or warm egg nog and I’ll tell you a story. 

We’re going back in time – way back.  Feel the shiver in your bones?  Feel the wind blowing cold and icy chills up your spine?  It’s cold.  Colder than cold.  And that is how our story begins.

See that house over there, the brown one with the broken shutter?  Listen.

And as we listen, we hear …

“Joshua.  It’s time to get up.”

The little bundle named Joshua didn’t budge. 

“Joshua.  I said get up.  You have got to get out of this house and bring us some money.”

Still no movement.

And with a swift whack on the back side, Joshua felt the broom land where it was intended.  And he stirred … and yawned.

“Well, well, Mr. Joshua.  So, you finally decided to rise from the dead, did you?”

He groaned, and yawned again.

“Now get up and get moving.  The day is moving on without you.”

“What’s for breakfast” Joshua asked.

“Breakfast?  Are you crazy?  What’s for breakfast, he says.”

The mother paused, laughed a sarcastic snicker and replied, “The same thing you had yesterday and the day before that.  “Now you git before I really take this broom to you, and I don’t mean the soft end.  You hear me.”

And so, Josh began to move.  He didn’t have to get dressed, for he was already dresses, such as it was, for he slept in his clothes.  He and his Mom lived on what you might call the poor side of their village.

As he was getting ready to leave, his Mom called out, “Don’t forget that thing you hang around your neck, and go make some money.  We need to eat tonight.”

And out the door he went.

He went from door to door trying to beg or plead for a handout, and none were offered.  He used “that thing” his mother referred to, and no one seemed to appreciate what he could do with it. 

Time passed, the hours drifted by.  It was a cold winter’s day and he felt the chill in every bone in his body. 

Along about nine at night, if there was such a thing as clocks in those days, he spotted a group of men shuffling along, headed down a narrow path toward a barn.  They were a jovial lot, laughing, and in a good mood and so he thought he would follow them for sport.

They approached the barn, went in … he stayed outside.  After all, he was an intruder. 

He turned to leave, and for the first time noticed a bright light overhead, and it seemed to settle right over the barn where that motley tangle of men had just entered. 

Just as he made a move back to the barn, he was brushed off the trail by an abrupt man leading a camel.  What followed was a whole parade of people and three regal looking men dressed in finery.  What was this all about, he wondered.

The kingly-looking men entered the barn, their attendants cared for their animals, and he stood outside looking on.

From somewhere deep inside he found his courage and entered the barn.  His eyes first landed on the wise me, whose backs were to him.  They were just beginning to stand and he could see they were laying gifts – expensive-looking gifts, on the floor.  And as they moved further away, he saw a man and a woman, and then he heard the soft cooing of a baby.  Why, the baby was lying in a feed trough.  And the kings had given these gifts to the parents of this baby.

And here he stood, dressed in his everyday rags, with no money, no finery … nothing.  Was he supposed to bow as the king-types had done?  Was he supposed to go and buy a gift, without money even, for this family?

Call it inspiration.  Call it impulse.  Call it
whatever you will, young Joshua somehow knew he was witness to a holy moment in time.  And in his heart, he knew the only gift he could offer, was from “that thing” that hung around his neck.  And so, he swung it into place.

And he played his drum … softly, simply.  
Pa-rum-pu-pum-pum.  He paused, and the lady, the mother, smiled and nodded as if to say … “play some more son.”

And he did.  He played.  The kingly men clapped, and smiled, the shepherds looked in the windows and the open door, and the baby quieted and listened, and waved his tiny fist in the air as if directing and saying “more, more.”

His gift … a simple drum solo.  It was all he could offer.  It was enough.

~ ~ ~

This story, as you have figured out, is a play on the song Little Drummer  Boy.  It is my own creation and a reminder for all of us that our gifts given to the Christ of Christmas matter, regardless of their size, their cost, or their worth.  When given from the heart, our gifts are acceptable.

One of my gifts is writing, and so I give it.  Others make beautiful music, or delicious pies, and some are able to give large sums of money to help the needy.  Some build things or make clothes.  Regardless of the ‘way’ you choose to give this Christmas, the important ingredient is that we give from a heart of love, with a kind spirit, and we give willingly of what we have.  That is, perhaps, giving as unto God himself. 

Merry Christmas.


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