Family Fiction posted December 9, 2013

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a shepherd boy and his drum in Bethlehem

A Treasured Gift

by gramalot8

Throughout the legends told around the world, there is a story about a simple Shepherd boy, and a  gift he shared because of one starlit night a long, long time ago. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Father, look up ... what is that bright light? Are we in danger?"
Simeon quickly ran to his Father's side, pointing up into the starlit sky.

"I'm not sure Simeon, but I don't think we're in any danger. It's probably just a brighter star than we're used to seeing around here. Come, son, we've got to get these sheep herded in for the night."

When they had settled the sheep in the pasture, Simeon and his Father, Issac, joined the rest of their family for dinner. His mother, Naomi, and little sisters, Grace and Miriam, were laughing and working together in their well-worn kitchen. Although their home was but a simple shepherd's cottage, it was very cozy. Simeon loved coming home after a long day on the hills herding their sheep. The well-swept dirt floors, open-hearth fireplace and candlelit room always made him feel safe and warm.

He could hardly wait to tell his mother about the light they had seen.

"Mother, you should have seen the bright light we saw in the skies when we were coming home. It  came so fast and  was so bright that I was really scared, but Father said he thought it was just an extra bright star. I sure haven't seen a star like that before."

After dinner was cleared up, they said a family prayer, blew out the candles and went to bed. Simeon climbed the roughly hewed wooden ladder up into the attic. He loved having the attic all to himself, and not having to share a room like his sisters. He felt really lucky to have a place where he could keep what he called all his special treasures. He felt even luckier that he could be up there with his most treasured thing of all... a leather and sinew drum that Father handmade him for his last birthday. Simeon also loved to sing. It was even nicer when he could play his drum and sing his own made-up songs at the same time. And Mother didn't complain too much about the noise when he drummed and sang up in the attic.

As Simeon crawled into bed, he took a long look out his window. Far off in the distance he could still see the glow of that bright evening star, which now appeared brighter than it had before. He couldn't help but wonder if there wasn't something special to explain it's sudden appearance.  He quickly reached for his drum and softly played along as he sang his nightly prayer.

"Little Shepherd boy am I, out here on the hill.  As I watch my sheep this night, God, gently hear my prayer.  Watch over us this night, til morning comes so clear and bright. Bring us blessings, God, we ask, in payment for our daily tasks.  And thank thee God, for what we share,  as we receive thy loving care."

Early the next morning, Simeon's Father had to go to the nearby town of Bethlehem. Mother also needed some supplies and Father invited Simeon to go with him. This was a treat for Simeon because he usually had to stay home and help his Mother and sisters with household chores when not out herding the sheep. He also knew he'd be doing a lot of standing around being bored while Father talked business, so he came up with a plan.

"Father, could I please bring along my drum to practice on while you're busy?"

"Well, ummm, yes, Simeon,  I suppose so.  It'll keep you busy while I'm taking care of business.  And your Mother will probably be happy you're practicing it somewhere else and not in the house."

Simeon knew he could strum on it all he wanted in the marketplace and not disturb anyone. He'd been practicing for awhile now and was becoming quite good at making more than just "that terrible pounding noise", his Mather had called it when he was first learning to play. He happily chuckled to himself as he climbed back up the ladder to retrieve the treasured drum. When he came back down, he skipped the last two rungs and ran quickly out the front door to catch up with his Father.

"Come on Simeon, walk faster, we have to hurry.  Mother needs her supplies and I need time to visit with the Butcher and Blacksmith about certain matters. You know we......"

Father quickly cut off his words due to the the loud commotion in the marketplace. Everywhere the townfolk were huddled in groups, excitedly visiting with their neighbors, pointing skyward, and  out-talking each other in boisterous conversations.....

"Joshua, did you see that bright star last night..... "

"Enoch, come here a minute. What was that light in the skies........."

"Mortichi, do you have a clue? Have you heard anything......."

"Rumor has it that the Savior we've all been waiting for has finally arrived.........."

.......and on and on in every nook and cranny of the town, people were milling about, talking amongst themselves, trying to find out if anyone knew what was happening.

As Simeon and his Father waited their turn at the butcher's stand, one of their friends, Jeremiah, rushed over.

"Issac, have you heard? Did you see that star in the sky last night? Come, come with me to the Inn. I have something to show you."

"But, Jeremiah, I have to get......"

"No, Issac, trust me, this is more important than a side of beef right now."

Hesitantly leaving their place in the butcher's line, Isacc and Simeon quickly followed Jeremiah. It seemed like the whole town was migrating toward the stable at the back of the Inn. Simeon held tightly to his drum so he wouldn't drop it from the jostling of the rushing crowd.

Nearing the stable, Simeon couldn't believe his eyes. Nestled among the cows, donkeys and sheep was a small, wooden cradle with a sleeping baby inside. A man and a woman, whom Simeon assumed were the baby's Mother and Father, were sitting on either side of the homemade cradle, gazing lovingly at the child.  Every now and then they glanced around the stable at the growing crowd.

As Isacc talked and accessed the scene with Jeremiah, Simeon pushed his way through the throng to get a closer look.  Suddenly the crowd parted. Three men dressed in purple and gold robes and adorned with jewled crowns upon their heads, approached the sleeping child. He had never seen anyone like them before.  Simeon watched in amazement as they presented gifts to the child's mother.  They spoke in a language he had never heard before.  Simeon could overhear the people in the crowd saying the strangers were talking about honoring the child and referring to him as "Our Savior and King". 

While Simeon watched the men, he felt his Father approach.  "This is a very special occasion, Simeon," he said as he firmly placed a hand on Simeon's shoulder.

"Father, who are they?  I've never seen men dressed like that before.  And why are they givng such beautiful gifts to a baby?"  As Simeon spoke, more people began to arrive with gifts for the child.  The Butcher brought a big slab of meat, the Miller gave a shawl stiched of gold and silver threads and the crowd ooed and awed as the Baker laid a loaf of his prized Sabbath bread into the hands of the baby's smiling Mother.

"It's a miracle", someone in the crowd shouted.
"God bless our Savior" and King", another voice was heard. 

"Blessed be the Christ Child." echoed others.

"Father, who is this child and why is he so special?" Simeon asked as he looked up into his Father's eyes.  "And why are you crying, Father?"

"Simeon, the Rabbi said he is the Christ Child whom we've all been waiting for.  He is the Savior, my son, that had been promised to come to us for many many years. HIs parents, Joseph and Mary, were traveling to Bethelehem when the baby decided it was time to come. The Inn was full so the Innkeeper let them stay in the stable.  That bright star in the sky last night was a sign announcing his arrival.  These three Wise Men saw the star and followed it here. And to honor him, they and the others are giving gifts of thanks for this wonderful blessing that has finally come to pass. And although some people like the Wise Men bring gifts of silver and gold, many others, like the Bucther and the Miller, bring  gifts that may not have a lot of monetary value but they are special to them and they want to share whatever they have with the newborn babe."

Simeon stared in awe at the many gifts for the baby, who was now nestled lovingly in his Mother's arms.  Many townfolk approached the child, bearing gits of all sizes, shapes and manner of means.

Suddenly, Simeon had another idea.  He knew what he had to do.

"Father, I want to share something, too,.  Do you think I could I share a song and play my drum for the Christ Child?  It's all I have and I've been practicing really hard.  I hope it will be a special gift for him too."
Father gave a hug of encouragement to his son. "I'm sure it will be just fine, Simeon."

Simeon shyly approached the baby and his Mother.  

"Excuse me, please.  I don't have much to give, cause I'm only a poor shepherd boy, but please, may I play my drum and sing a song for you?"

Mary sweetly smiled at the boy. "Yes, please, come closer. We'd love to hear you."

Boldly stepping forward, Simeon began singing and drumming the most beautiful song he had ever played before.  As he sang, his innocent child-like voice mingled with the strains of a Heavenly Choir of Angels, who could be heard singing joyously from the heavens above the humble manger scene.

"I am but a Shepherd boy, meek and mild and low.  And, thank thee, Heavenly Father for the many blessings you bestow. I play my special drum for thee in honor of our Savior King. And in grateful song I humbly sing, thanking thee for everything."

The growing crowd knealt down in reverance as they listened to the simple shepherd boy and God's Heavenly Choir join in song in praises to the newborn King.

As Simeon finished his heartfelt song, he laid his teasured drum at Mary's feet.  " I hope you liked my song. This is all I have to give but I also want to share something with the baby Savior. Will you accept my drum as a treasured gift from me?"

"Thank you, Child, for giving of yourself from within your heart.  And I think your drum is the most treasured gift my son has received this day."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

.....And so the little town of Bethlehem, along with Simeon, Isaac and all mankind since that day , have been basking in the promises and blessings brought about because of that starlit night a long, long time ago.


Christmas Story contest entry

My adaptation of the stories of a shepherd boy and little drummer boy, who I've combined as the same boy in my story. He comes to honor the baby Jesus in a stable. Many thanks to Angelheart for her beautiful Nativity picture to accompany my story.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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