Tag Archives: Christmas

The three gifts the Magi brought to the Christ Child.

Doing the best with what one is given

Merry Christmas everyone! If you do not observe Christmas, have a wonderful time anyway. This season of the year marks a turning point from darkness to light – the Winter Solstice – a good time to celebrate however few or many blessing we have been given.

A story and a song can illustrate:

The Parable of the Talents

A rich man needed to go on a trip. Just before his departure, he gave five coins (which were called talents in the old days) to one servant, two coins to another, and one coin to a third. Upon his return he asked his servants for an accounting of the coins. Two servants had used the bounty well and returned double the amount of coins – 10 and 4 coins respectively. The third servant, uncertain and fearful, had hid his one coin, and that is all he had. (Matthew 25:14).

This parable could be the origin of the saying “What have you done with what you were given.” If blessing are used well, they turn into bigger blessings. If there is lack of faith, distrust, and fearfulness, blessings are wasted.

The Little Drummer Boy

The Nativity Story tells of the great gifts the Child Christ received from three Kings: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. A Christmas carol tells of another equally significant gift. Here are two of the verses from The Little Drummer Boy.

Little baby
Pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too
Pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give our king
Pa rum pum pum pum,


I played my drum for him
Pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for him
Pa rum pum pum pum,
Then he smiled at me
Pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum

The drummer boy is “a poor boy too,” just like the Baby in the manger who has no crib for a bed. All he has is his drum, which one is left to imagine whether that is his work tool in battle. He did very well with what he was given, though!

He smiled at me … Me and my drum.

Pictured: The Gifts of the Three Kings, gold, frankincense and myrrh. This is a screen shot from a beautiful 18-minute dramatization of the Nativity story, found on the Light of the World website. Watch the movie. Note the subtle expressions of acceptance of circumstances, and determination to rise above by doing what needs to be done.

Leontyne Price in Aida

And the Soul Felt its Worth

Seems each year that passes, Christmas is getting less exciting. Christmas 2021 is competing not only with the devastation caused by COVID-19 response, but also with the drumbeat of identity politics. Maybe it is time to dial back. Maybe it is time to regain some “Christmas Spirit.”

Here is one way to do both: Sit back and listen to Leontyne Price sing Oh Holy Night. Better yet, also listen to a Price interview, where she is fun, loving, and oh, so self-assured.

Picture above shows Leontyne Price performing one of her most famous operatic parts, Aida. Picture below shows Price in an interview with Anthony Tommasini, chief classical critic at the New York times.

Oh Holly Night and Leontyne Price seem to fit together well. The song talks about Jesus moving people away from desperation to a feeling of self-worth and new beginnings:

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour’s birth;
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn…

Leontyne Price has absolutely no doubt about her worth as a human being or an accomplished singer. She said:

Accomplishments have no color.

To sing is the most human of the art form delivery, more than, perhaps, an instrument which has to be tuned mechanically. You are the tuner; you are the vessel. Everything depends on how you feel as a person. It is for you to hear how beautiful your instrument is.

In Leontyne Price’s interview with Anthony Tommasini, she talks about her voice range. Her point is you need to know what you want to achieve, visualize the result, and be in complete charge of what you need to do to accomplish what you want. In other words, feel your worth.

Like liberty, self worth is God given. You either find it in yourself or, to your detriment, you wait for others to decide to give it to you or not.

Merry Christmas

This Will Be A Difficult Christmas

This will be a difficult Holiday Season. So many without jobs. So many fearful. Thus, just maybe listening to “Joy to the World” or wishing family and friends (whom we are forbidden to see) a “Merry Christmas” could feel like cognitive dissonance. Just maybe, instead, this could be a good time to remember the challenges Mary and Joseph overcame just prior to Baby Jesus’ birth.

Those were great spiritual and physical challenges, the reminiscence of which could be useful regardless of whether we are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, or nothing at all.

Spiritual Decisions

We all must struggle with poignant decisions at points in our lives. Accepting momentous obligations qualifies as hugely poignant.

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus …Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? Luke 1 31-34.

Mary, chaste and betrothed to Joseph, accepted her instructions, although she must have known that if Joseph cast her out, her punishment by law would be death by stoning.

Then Joseph, her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away quietly … But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared onto him in a dream …

A man of faith as well as compassion, Joseph followed the angel’s command. Not an easy task.

The Long Journey

The physical challenges Mary and Joseph prevailed close to Jesus’ birth might be as useful to remember as their spiritual ones.

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, (because he was of the house and lineage of David) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. Luke 2 1-5

Bethlehem is 80 – 100 miles, depending on the route, from Nazareth. It is rough, mountainous, and at the time dangerous terrain. This map shows the route (green dots on the right) Mary and Joseph would have taken, not a direct route but a safer one. The direct route would have taken them through Samarian land, hostile to Jews.

The Story of the Gift of Christmas. Lux Mundi, December 17, 1917

Strong Souls Forge On

Women heavy with child have traveled the overland trails and refugee caravans. Mary forged through as well – probably on foot, not even on a donkey.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:1

As the saying goes “What have you done with what you have been given” The Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the guy who crystalized the meaning of Christianity was born in a bed of straw.

The Soul Must Feel Its Worth

There is one carol that could help if in these trying times of Covid-19 and mandates your business is failing or your children have not received proper schooling since the beginning of 2020. That is the carol that speaks of the soul feeling its worth. Here is a link to the incredible voice of Leontyne Price singling Oh Holy Night.