The Missing Drummer

by Mark on December 15, 2009

Toy Drummer 1

              A pinch of mint and a whiff of baked ginger lingered in the room.   Hanging in the doorway was mistletoe, ready to lure holiday lovers into its spell.   The fat pine, still sticky with sap, seemed straighter at the tree lot.   The lower branches vibrated with frantic activity.    The Christmas Season always seemed to arrive too early and fly too quickly toward that magical morning.

                After their long nap the figurines and ornaments were eager to greet each other and help decorate the holiday display.   Among all the chatter, bells, and harps, the ornament parade faced difficulty forming.    A troop of toy soldiers were unable to pick-up their cadence.   There was no ‘rump-bump-bump’ to line-up their shiny boots.  Ready or not, Rudolph leaped to the front.  The procession lurched forward.   Trumpets blared, but as the parade entered the porcelain village, something was wrong!  Wise men bumped into elves.  Carolers slipped on the waxy snow.   Where was the familiar beat that always helped them find their way?

                They struggled to the center of the celebration, the Nativity Scene.   The warmth and brightness of the Holy Family quickly reduced the confusion.   Mary and Joseph smiled at the crowd.  The peaceful feeling should have lasted forever.   Not that day.   A cry came from the rear.  Puppies wailed.  Carolers gathered around an old blue drum.

                “Our Drummer is missing,” cried a blonde caroler in a Dickens gown. 

                “He didn’t make it this year,” explained a boy with a lantern.  “He wasn’t in the box with the other decorations.”

                “The Drummer was starting to limp and his coat was full of patches,” said a man with a stove pipe hat.  “But I always expected him to be here.”

                The Lantern Boy cried, “He can’t be gone!  Christmas will never be the same.”  Soon all of the decorations stood around the drum, crying and remembering.

                “I will miss the twinkle in his eye.”

                “The Drummer’s grin had so many dimples.  It always brightened my day.”

                “He used to tease me.   It always made me smile.”

                “Whenever I needed help, the Drummer was always there.”

                “Who will lead our parade?”

                “How will we find our way?”

                Grief began to numb them.  Like a worn Christmas tree bulb, their colors faded, blinked, and then dimmed.   Angels quit harking.  Carolers no longer crooned.   Shepherds lost their sheep.  Reindeers wouldn’t leave the stables.  Toy soldiers remained in their barracks.  The tree bulbs darkened.  Glimmering tinsel became stringy shadows on the wall.  One-by-one, the porcelain village lights turned off until the entire room became dark and cold.

                 A Wise Man saw it first.   A single light broke through the eclipse.  It was a star centered over the town square.   All the decorations drew closer.   This golden beam’s warmth lifted some of the chill that clinged to them.   The star showered the Holy Family with a heavenly glow.  Everyone stepped forward – without a parade and without stumbling.   The Holy Family smiled.  A voice spoke from above.

                “Don’t trouble yourself about the Drummer.    Jesus, Mary and Joseph also love him.”

                It was an angel, glittering in light, hovering overhead.  A little caroling girl cried out.  “If they love him, why is he gone?”

                The calm voice replied, “We have a special parade for him to lead each Christmas.  It is the grandest of all parades.”

                “What about us?” asked the Lantern Boy?  

                A smile came across the angel.  “You miss your friend, but he’ll never be gone.”

                “You don’t understand.”  The crowd murmured.

                “The Drummer is in your thoughts, and those memories will always be with you.”

                “We need his help,” insisted a shepherd.

                “Every time you help each other, you will see him.  Every time you smile, your grin will be his reflection.   The twinkle in his eye was his love for you.   Show your love for each other and all eyes will twinkle. “

                The ornaments nodded and whispered to each other.  One of the toy soldiers spoke, “We still need a drummer to keep from stumbling over each other.”

                The angel began to fade away.  “Do not fear.  Someone will come forward and lead.  Help the next drummer find the beat and you will rediscover what you are missing.”  Wings and all, the angel disappeared.

                Some of the lights turned back on while others blink as each decoration dealt with the loss at their own pace.   Small acts of kindness did lead to more smiles.   Those smiles grew to grins and inspired twinkles in more and more eyes.  Every time the carolers held hands, they felt the Drummers soul.  Favorite stories about him were told and re-told.  Over the years, new figurines and ornaments, who never met him, learned to love the Drummer just the same.

                As Christmas approached, the room became a kaleidoscope of lights and color.   Harps, bells and chimes blended into one festive melody.   The chorus found one voice in praising the ‘birthday celebrant’ and His season.  Even the puppy delivered the right octave for the ensemble.  

                Six pairs of fluffed and buffed boots stepped in unison along perfect rows.   Rudolf pranced ahead to start the parade.   All heard a ‘rumpa-bump-bump’ from the front of the parade.   The new drummer was already in the lead.  A chubby stuffed bear with an elf hat practiced day and night on the abandoned drum.  The first attempts were rough on the ears, but the other ornaments encouraged him.  Soon he mastered the right beat to lead the parade.

              The celebration lasted until late on Christmas Eve.  The bear snored beneath the tree, still clutching the drum and sticks.  The other ornaments were just settling down when a ‘rumpa-bump-bump” came from outside.   They all rushed to the window.   Out on the horizon a caravan passed across a  desert.  Joseph guided a mule carrying his wife.  Mary was tired, but ‘full of grace.’  A star illuminated the front of the procession and the ‘rumpa-bump-bump’ grew stronger.   It was the Missing Drummer!  He was leading the Holy Family to Bethlehem.   All mankind was waiting.

              Listen for it every Christmas.   It is the grandest of all parades!

Missing Drummer Parade


Merry Christmas

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