Summary: This fictional narrative imagines what that first Christmas might actually have looked like through the eyes of the Little Drummer Boy.

The following is a work of fiction. Please feel free to use it in a spoken inspirational context (i.e., as a Reading or Meditation presented orally at Christmastime.) Please do not reproduce or republish by email or on the web without the author’s permission.

(c) 2003 J. K. Twitchell

The Legend of the Little Drummer Boy

Holy Scripture tells us about Joseph and Mary and their journey to Bethlehem to give birth to the Savior. We are told how they wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in the manger for there was no room for them in the inn. We’re told of the visitors that came to see the Christ Child--the shepherds abiding in their fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And we’re told about the Wise Men who brought gifts from afar because they saw a great star in the sky.

Legend tells us that there was another individual who came to see the Baby, an individual whose story we won’t find in the pages of The Bible. And yet, while the legend of the little drummer boy may be entirely fictitious, there is great truth within its message. It is that story which I share with you now.

It was dark outside when little Zack awoke. As he lay in bed, he realized what had awoken him, for he could hear a group of people talking as they passed by on the street outside. Zack got out of bed and slipped to the window, hoping not to awaken his parents.

Immediately, Zack realized that this was no ordinary group of people passing by his house in the middle of the night, for these people were richly dressed, with servants to lead their camels. They had dark skin and were headed in the direction of Herod’s palace. Zack could only assume that they must be visiting kings who had come to visit Herod.

“Oh boy!” Zack thought, “A parade! I love parades!” And so he did. The boy had always had a fascination with parades and costumes and bands. So great was his fascination that last year for his birthday his parents bought him a drum so he could play in the parades when they came to town.

And so, Zack did what any 12-year-old boy would do who plays drums in the parades. He slipped over to the closet, opened it quietly, so as to not awaken his parents, grabbed his drum and drumsticks, and crept to the door. He closed the door behind him, being careful not to let it squeak as it neared the threshold. And then, after he had snuck out of the house, being sure that his parents had not stirred, he marched right over to that parade, got right in line behind the last camel and started banging away at his drum. “Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum, Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum”

Poor Zack was not prepared for what happened next. He had forgotten that his parents were not the only people who were asleep in the city of Jerusalem. Candles were lit, men leaned out their windows to see what was going on. People shouted, “Cut that racket out!” and one person even threw a rock at Zack.

But Zack kept playing his drum. He wasn’t going to miss out on this parade, not for his life. Even the three Very Important People tried to silence him. They turned around and gave him dirty looks, and put their fingers to their lips. They scowled at him, but they could not keep Zack from playing his drum. One of them even sent his servant back to try to silence Zack.

“What are you doing?” the servant asked, “It’s the middle of the night!”

“I’m playing my drum for your parade,” the boy answered, “Every parade needs a drum! You’ll need me to announce your arrival at Herod’s palace!”

“Please don’t!” insisted the servant. “You’ll wake the whole village, and wake King Herod as well. We don’t need to have our arrival announced, thank you very much.”

Zack didn’t have a clever reply, so he let the drum answer for him, “Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum, Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum.” People kept yelling out their windows, the Wise Men scowled, and the servant tried to take his drumsticks away, but Zack would not quit.

And so, the parade wound its way through the quiet city streets, which weren’t so quiet any more. They continued on their way toward the palace: “Plod, plod, plod” went the camels, “Step, step, step” went the servants, “Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum, Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum, Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum” went the noisy drum.

Finally, the little parade arrived at the palace, just an hour or two before dawn. Zack was insistent on staying with the parade, but the palace guards took his drum away and made him sit outside the palace gates while the great men from the east went in to have an audience with King Herod.

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William Jones

commented on Dec 19, 2006

Very Creative! It would be interesting to see this story adapted into a children's pagent.

Joe Wateski

commented on Dec 8, 2016

I heard a different story, much more sinister but with a lasting meaning. To me, it makes more sense... Consider for a moment that there actually was a "little drummer boy" that visited the Christ child. His very presence begs two questions right off the bat. Why was a little boy traveling alone at a time and in a town where he could have very easily been beaten, killed, taken as a slave, or even raped? He would be nearly helpless in the face of man-made evil. 2nd - where did he get a drum? Not like there was a Guitar Center, or other music store on the corner. A plausible explanation was that his family had been killed by an invading army (rather common back in the days of the Romans). He was able to run away and later came back to see his parents (and any siblings) slain. As he wandered around in his grief-stricken state, he found a DRUM that had been accidentally left behind by one of the soldiers. Drummers, and for that matter DRUMS were instruments of war for over a 1000 years, beating out the cadence that told soldiers how to organize for battle, the pace and direction to move in unison, even what tactics to employ en-masse. The little boy's heart had been broken by the carnage he witnessed. He was ANGRY, and could not feel love. Instinctively, as time passed, he sought a cure for his pain. When the baby Jesus smiled at him, it was the first time he had felt kindness or love since he lost his family. The smile of the Christ infant helped cure his broken heart. He was never mentioned again.

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