I DON'T BELIEVE IN THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY
by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer Syracuse, Indiana
(Christmas is fast approaching, and that can only mean one thing: Erik is waiting until the last minute to do his shopping again. That gives us a chance to run his favorite Christmas column.)
Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. My birthday, my anniversary, and any other occasion where people give me presents are also big favorites. To get myself into the Christmas spirit, I listen to Christmas music. I hit the department stores around August to hear Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; and Jingle Bell Rock. It's a wonder most sales clerks haven't killed anyone by mid-November.
I love the classics - Jingle Bells, Silent Night, and the Sex Pistols' Have Yourself a Merry $%@&! Christmas. But there are a few that, given a choice, I'd rather run my radio through with a pitchfork than listen to them. One of my least favorite songs is Bruce Springsteen's Santa Claus is Coming To Town, which is nothing but 20 minutes of Bruce singing Santa Claus is coming to town over and over and over. By the time Bruce finishes with his Yuletide droning, Santa is back home, slamming Upside-Down Margaritas with the elves.
But the worst Christmas song ever, the song that makes me want to sleep straight to Easter is The Little Drummer Boy. Not only does it repeat the same phrase over and over - pa-rum pum pum pum - but the song just isn't believable. I realize songs about a fat guy sliding down chimneys or a flying reindeer with a halogen nose aren't believable either, but at least they're grounded in reality.
First, drums do not go pa-rum pum pum pum. As any parent knows, drums are loud percussive instruments. They do not make pleasant little melodies sung by children's choirs. They make headaches. Drums go Ka-wham whap whap whap!! When the Little Drummer Boy asks Mary if he could play a song for the Baby Jesus - pa-rum pum pum pum - no one says, Wait a minute! That kid is just going to pound a drum. Somebody stop him!
The gift of music is one of the greatest gifts, because it comes from the heart, unless you really wanted that big screen high-definition TV instead. But when your newborn baby has finally gone to sleep after screaming for 6 hours because his bed is made of straw and smells like cow poo, do you really want someone going ka-wham whap whap whap! at him? And what did Mary do? She just nodded - pa-rum pum pum pum - listened attentively, and smiled quietly to herself.
Not being a mother, I can't speak for other mothers. But I'll wager your Christmas gifts that if you've been riding on a donkey for several days, and then spent the last 36 hours in labor, you wouldn't want some snot-nosed kid showing up to beat a drum at you. The song would be more accurate if it said Mary leapt off her stool and chased the little brat away, pa-rum pum pum pum.
Did the ox and lambs really keep time - pa-rum pum pum pum? Not likely. Oxen are tone deaf and lambs don't have a well-developed sense of rhythm. Besides, the drum in question was probably made out of oxen or lambskin, so they would not have appreciated the irony of the situation.
Then He smiled at me - pa-rum pum pum pum? I have an easier time believing the ox and lambs doffed top hats and did Puttin' On the Ritz. How would you feel if you had been removed from a nice warm womb and stuck in a bed of itchy, smelly straw so some jerk could beat a drum at you? Here's a test. Go find a newborn baby and start pa-rum pum pum pumming on a pot with a couple of wooden spoons. If he smiles, he's colicky.
I'm all for the magic and wonder of Christmas. But I know mothers. And I know babies. And I know that mothers don't want anyone pounding drums around with their babies. Gift of music or not, beating on a lambskin stretched over a hollow log is not something a new mother wants to deal with. I realize we're talking about Mary, the mother of the Messiah, but everyone has a limit to their patience. And little drummer boys aren't pushing it, so much as ramming it with a large wooden cart.
If you're ever in the mood to serenade a newborn baby and his mother with anything noisier than a single blad of grass, don't. Just trust me on this. If you really want to be helpful, give the mom something useful, like a set of earplugs and a weekend's free babysitting.