Happy New Year! Yesterday, we celebrated the Feast of Epiphany, commemorating the Magi’s visit to the Christ Child. Stories identify these “wise men from the East” as Melchior (Persia), Gaspar (India), and Balthazar (Arabia), who offered the baby Jesus gifts of gold, which symbolized Jesus as king; frankincense, which symbolized Jesus as priest; and myrrh, an anointing oil, symbolized Jesus’ mortality. Without a doubt, these visitors were wealthy, and brought gifts of great value to honor the infant King.
I don’t know how many of you are country music fans, but Carrie Underwood’s new Christmas Album, My Gift, played regularly at my house over the holidays. One of my all-time favorite Christmas carols, and one of my favorite numbers on this album is The Little Drummer Boy (a duet with Carrie Underwood and her five-year-old son Isaiah Fisher). In the song, like the Magi, who brought great gifts, a young boy wants to bring a gift to the baby Jesus. But he is poor and the only thing he can offer is a song on his drum. “I played my drum for him. I played my best for him. Then he smiled at me. Me and my drum.”
Whether we possess vast wealth like The Three Kings, or are crippled by poverty like The Little Drummer Boy, we, too, are asked to present our gifts to our Lord. We do this, of course, through our interactions with others, as we are reminded in Matthew 25: 40 (“Whatsoever you did for the least of my brothers, you did for me”). Our gift does not need to be monumental, just sincere.
Normally at the beginning of a New Year, we set new goals or make resolutions. More often than not, we are successful for a while, but then start to fall back into old habits when everyday demands become more of a priority. After this past year, when our daily routines and practices were turned upside down, I think the stress of making major changes might be challenging. This year I have asked the school staff to think a bit smaller. Perhaps these ideas might resonate with you as well.
Instead of emulating The Three Kings and their grandiosity, perhaps channeling the simpler mindset of The Little Drummer Boy might be a better option. Every morning when you wake up, before you tackle the demands of the day, think of one blessing for which you are thankful. (I took a COVID test on Saturday and it came back negative so I was most thankful for that! Simple, but satisfying.) Second, think of one person that you want to try to encourage or lighten their load during the day (check in with a friend or relative, or give someone a compliment). Finally, plan to do one kind thing for yourself (a walk or a bath sounds lovely). At the end of the day, bring to mind one positive event that happened during the day, one person who made you smile, and one small goal for the next day. It’s helpful to jot these moments down in a journal. It should only take a few minutes, but we are more successful when we write things down. And at the end of 2021, what a wonderful, uplifting book of remembrances we will have compiled.