This song in particular used to baffle me as a child. I would wonder: "Why would you pound on a noisy drum for a little baby?" And at that age, I found it to be disrespectful. My interpretation was that you give presents for Christmas, because that's just how it is to be done. Jesus received treasures, and we must follow suit. No questions asked. It wasn't until I was older that its significance became evident. The song opens with the voices of the Three Kings stating that they have brought their finest gifts. So to honor Him, pa rum pa pum pum. The second stanza is the voice of the boy, who admits that he is poor. He has no gift for baby Jesus. Sadly, this poor boy feels ashamed because for many societies, it is expected to demonstrate one's wealth, for which he has none. Pa rum pa pum pum. Therefore, he asks if it is allowed that he plays his drum instead. Mary nodded. The animals appreciated it, and Jesus smiled at the little drummer boy. Pa rum pa pum pum, he and his drum.
So why did I choose to write about this song in an essay on the Wisdom of Giving? That comes back to why we even have Christmas. This holiday exists to represent that God loved the world so much that He gave, to the world, Himself in human form. We know this gift as Jesus. To the Christian faith, Jesus represents "God with us." (Emmanuel) Later in his life, however, it is described that Jesus renounced a life of wealth, he even preached against it as he lived among the people. Here is where the spirit of generosity is made evident.
As in the song, we exist in a world where money is worshiped. But money is merely symbolic. To us, money represents time. It is a symbol for how one has spent time, effort and talent. Intrinsically, it's that knowledge, effort and talent that has the real value to us. We have simply become confused by honoring monetary values rather than humanistic ones. The Little Drummer Boy should be an inspiration to us all that we were all given the gifts of knowledge, strength, talent and kindness. These are the real gifts. These are the real treasures. Even if it takes a little boy to demonstrate that generosity is about time and making memories, pay attention to that. If you believe that God is with us, then give your Self, just as He did. Share time, share personality, share kindness. That is the spirit of giving. That is the Wisdom of Christmas.