The Little Drummer Boy


This morning I visited my mother’s last surviving friend at her retirement home. At 98 she is still in astonishingly good health, though very limited in her sight and hearing. Without any kin and with no surviving friends, she spends several hours every day just sitting in her favourite chair in the elegantly appointed lobby.

The Christmas decorations are all up, including a twenty-foot tree decked in huge white and gold ornaments.  Elaborate decorations are everywhere you look… angel dolls and Santa music boxes, poinsettia and blinking lights in the large plants, and of course a huge fancy creche. But no one looked very festive. It is hard to be old, to just sit and wait as the seasons come and go, even when pampered and surrounded by luxury.

Of course there was piped seasonal music, rather loud and old piped music. Perhaps that is because the hearing impaired need it that loud to even notice it.  I can only imagine what the din must sound like to those whose hearing aids magnify the ambient sound. Conversation, strained at best, was almost impossible.

The Little Drummer Boy, surely one of the most obnoxious holiday songs when played badly, was followed by Alvin and the Chipmunk’s Christmas song. When Alvin came on I saw one old gentleman shaking his head and fingering his hearing aid. Maybe he didn’t believe his ears. Maybe he was turning them OFF!

So I came home and did some research. The Chipmunks you can find on YouTube for yourself… I hesitate to inflict them on anyone.  I also found the Jackson Five (yes, Michael Jackson’s family) performing The Little Drummer Boy and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Seeing is believing!

I think I must have missed the seventies… you may have also, for a very different reason.  I was a stay-at-home Mom, with two little boys born in 1968 and 1969. Pop culture was not part of my busy life. Watching these tapes I can believe, in retrospect, that may have been a very good thing.  What do you think?

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