The other day I walked into a store and was surprised to hear one of my favorite Christmas songs, “The Little Drummer Boy,” playing. Then the little lady I was with reminded me that it is Christmas in July.
That song will always be special, because it reminds me that a poor little boy, the drummer boy, felt he had nothing to give as a gift — a Christmas gift, if you will — to the newborn Christ. But before leaving that humble stable, that little boy did find a gift to give. “I played my drum for him, I played my best for him.” He gave all that he had to give.
Several people have old me they are already starting to prepare for Christmas, even though we still have a little more than five months, with 133 shopping days to find the gifts we will give to others. Undoubtedly there are those who will wait until the last minute “and see what’s left.” If the chain supply continues to suffer as it has these past few months, there may be precious little left for those last-minute shoppers.
Even now, it’s not easy to find what we might consider the perfect gift for that someone special on our list, whether it is a family member or a friend. Or maybe it is a stranger we will never meet. How can that be, you might ask. Well, have you ever made a donation to the Toys for Tots Christmas collection, packed a shoebox for a child to receive through Operation Christmas Child, or even given a Christmas gift to an organization like Stray Cats Central? Whoever receives those gifts are most likely strangers we may never meet. For gifts like that, do we grab the cheapest thing we can find on the clearance shelf or see if there is any change in our pocket? Shame on us if we do. Those gifts should also be the best that we can possibly give.
The best gift that I can give may not be as big or as expensive as the gift someone else gives. But I learned a long time ago from a very special man that if I have given the very best that I can — whatever the circumstance — it will be blessed.
When the little drummer boy was playing his song, it wasn’t wrapped in fancy paper and tied with a sparkling ribbon. But it was wrapped in something more precious — love and maybe even in a prayer. When our gifts are wrapped with love and prayers, they are sure to be special to the one who receives.
The song doesn’t end with the little boy playing his drum. After the little boy finished playing his drum, the song says the Baby Jesus “smiled at me.” Can you think of any gift more wonderful than having Jesus smile at you, because he is pleased with what you have done for him? To me that would be a wonderful blessing.
It is also a blessing to imagine the smiles on the faces of the children who will receive the shoeboxes that I pack and send this year, perhaps the only gift they will receive for Christmas. It is a blessing to imagine that some kitties that might otherwise be homeless will have something in their tummy on Christmas Day.
This year, when all the gifts you have given for Christmas have been opened, will you be able to say that those who received them “smiled at me” because you know you had given the best that you could?
Thought for the week — What you plant now, you will harvest later.