I also dedicate today’s seasonal song to birthday to Margo Kavanagh who lives in Carrick-on-Suir, Tipperary, Ireland. Enjoy your special day, Margot, and thank you for being my Facebook friend.
Today’s song is ‘The Little Drummer Boy’. "The Little Drummer Boy" (originally known as ‘Carol of the Drum’) is a popular Christmas song written by the American classical music composer and teacher Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941. The song was first recorded in 1951 by the ‘Trapp Family Singers’, and the song was further popularized by a 1958 recording by the Harry Simeone Chorale. The Simeone version was re-released successfully for several years and the song has been recorded many times since.
In the lyrics, the singer relates how, as a poor young boy, he was summoned by the Magi to the Nativity of Jesus. Without a gift for the Infant, the little drummer boy played his drum with approval from Jesus's mother, Mary, recalling, "I played my best for him" and "He smiled at me".
In regard to the central message of this seasonal song, ‘Doing one’s best’ is the most that anyone can ever do. My dear late father was a man of few words and a person who held even fewer doubts about the importance of all work where mankind is concerned. My father was born in County Kilkenny, Ireland into a family of such poverty that the male children of the household were obliged to leave school not long after their twelfth birthdays and go to work on behalf of their family.
My father’s education was subsequently cut short and so all his effort went into the manual work for the whole of his working life. The few pieces of advice that my father ever gave me were directly related to one’s working ethos, one’s word, and one’s level of self-respect.
They were as follows:
“Never break your word, Billy, once you have given it. However hard it is to keep, keep it!”
“Hold on to what little self-respect you have, Billy, because that is all a poor man has when his pocket is empty!”
“Whatever work you do, Billy, and whatever job you have, even if it is sweeping the factory floor, do it to the best of your ability and you will sleep better every night knowing that you have done your best!”
Although my father never placed any store upon the accumulation of academic qualifications, he was a hard-working man all his life whose employers always thought highly of him. The only books my father ever read in his life were western paperbacks about cowboy heroes of the previous century. The area where my father excelled was in the arena of football or ‘soccer’ as it is known in the land of his birth, Eire (Southern Ireland). By the age of 20 years, my father played soccer for County Kilkenny, and before he married my mother when he was 26 years old, he was playing soccer for the Irish national squad! Being the modest man he was, I would be 9 years old before I ever learned about my father’s soccer credentials.
While it is possible for anyone to question some of my father’s views and beliefs, nobody can justifiably fault him for not ‘doing his best’ at whatever job he ever held! From the early years of my life, he was a miner at the coal face, followed by semi-skilled employment in engineer factories. Being the father of seven children (of whom I was the oldest), his normal working weeks would always involve working overtime when he could get it and working through his two-week summer holiday period so that my mother could take the children on a week’s holiday in a caravan at Scarborough. Had dad not been one of the most modest men I ever knew, he would have been the first to bang his drum as loud as any other working-class man, where industrious character traits and soccer skills of the highest order were concerned. I have frequently wondered why his oldest child never learned such humility of character, and learn to pocket his proud achievements instead of wearing them like a prominent badge of honour on ready display? God bless you, dad x
Love and peace Bill xxx