Each year my wife and I make all these grandiose plans to do ALL THE CHRISTMAS THINGS. And I promise myself I’ll have every gift purchased and in the mail much earlier than I ever do.

And each year, that never happens.

Maybe it’s because I’m not a kid anymore. Maybe it’s because the last few months of this year had a lot of big, adult things to deal with. Maybe it’s because of the state of the world. Maybe it’s all of the above.

But this year more than any other, it felt like it was September, I sneezed, and Christmas was somehow only a few days away.

One of those big things we faced a few weeks ago was a possible cancer diagnosis. Erin had a routine checkup and one hormone level came back very elevated. So elevated that her Doctor asked her to come in the very next day for additional testing.

The few days waiting for the results, and finally hearing the news that all was OK and that she was fine, were disquieted days.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t sure how to feel. I’m still not. I had to be brave for her. I had to be present, which was one of the hardest parts of this. I couldn’t just ignore the scary feelings. I couldn’t just pretend there were no hard parts. I had to sit in the mess and face some hard emotions and scary questions..

Last weekend, I finally had some time to decompress and begin processing all that had gone on over the last few weeks. I ended up stumbling upon my all time favorite Christmas TV Special, The Little Drummer Boy. It’s always been my favorite, but somehow I’ve not found it on TV in probably 20 years, which makes this all the more special. Because while I remember the overarching story (as I’m sure you do), I had totally forgotten the details.

Spoiler alert — if you’d prefer to watch it and not have the story spoiled, skip to the bottom.

Our little drummer boy (Aaron) had a great childhood. His parents loved him tremendously and he cared greatly for the animals on their little farm. His parents gifted him a little drum and out of the abundance of love in that gift, anytime the little boy played his little drum, the animals would dance.

Then it gets dark.

Thieves break in and burn the farm to the ground. They kill his father. And just before his mother is murdered, she hands him the little lamb and his drum and tells him to run.

Like I said, dark.

What was once a carefree, cared for little boy becomes a jaded, wounded and broken young man who finds himself leading his few remaining animals (including the little lamb) through the desert trying to survive. But Aaron still plays his drums, and the animals still dance.

It was the dancing animals that piqued the interest of a Ben Haramed, traveling entertainer/con-man. Ben immediately desires the dancing animals and essentially kidnaps Aaron and forces him to perform. Throughout their journeys they cross paths with the three Wise Men who, in need of a camel, inquire about buying Aaron’s camel. Ben Haramed, ever interested in getting rich, sees the predicament of the Wise Men and without telling the Wise Men of his greed, sell a camel he doesn’t own…. giving Aaron only a pittance of the money earned.

Our little drummer boy is able to break free and he, his little lamb and donkey then give chase, trying to find the Wise Men in an attempt to free their camel.

They finally catch up to the Wise Men in Bethlehem. Where, during the the crowds and commotion of the shepherds coming to see the newborn king and the excitement brought to the little town of Bethlehem because of the arrival of these Wise Men, the little lamb gets trampled and injured severely.

The Little Drummer Boy is heartbroken. He knows his most precious possession is is gravely wounded, and he knows he’s unable to do anything to fix it. But he has hope, for the Wise Men may know how to save his little lamb.

So the Little Drummer Boy pushes his way through the crowds, searching for and finally finding one of the Wise Men. He begs for help. The Wise Man looks at the little lamb and knows he’s unable to do anything, for the lamb is too gravely wounded. The Little Drummer Boy exclaims “But I don’t understand, you are a king?!

And the Wise Man responds and says, “A mortal king only…. but there is a King among Kings who would save your little friend”.

The Little Drummer Boy doesn’t understand and the Wise Man tells him he doesn’t need to understand. But to just go to the babe.

Our Little Drummer Boy lays down his lamb, approaches the new born king, and worships. And he plays his drum.

I’d forgotten that part of the story. Of course I knew the song. But over time I’d forgotten the story and I filled in those gaps with assumptions. I assumed the little boy wanted to worship, I assumed he wanted to bring something to the newborn King. But it wasn’t that at all. It wasn’t that the Little Drummer Boy wanted to bring a gift to the Christ because he was the Christ, it wasn’t that he’d journeyed to Bethlehem to give the honor due…

No, his story was simpler, more human. Our Little Drummer Boy had a need he knew he could never fulfill.

It was that need, that love for his little lamb, that drove him to seek out the Wise Men. And it was the Wise Men who pointed him to Christ.

And it was Christ who had what our Little Drummer Boy needed. What I needed.

Healing for his little lamb, and healing for his heart.