Holiday music doesn’t do a thing for me. I don’t listen to it on the car radio or play it on my CD player, even though I have several respectable holiday collections. I don’t hate it, I’m not a grinch. It just doesn’t excite or move me.

To be completely honest, I don’t like Christmas hymns, either.(1) As a teenager my adoptive parents tortured us kids by forcing us to attend a music concert of The Messiah. People all around me wiped tears away, feeling the Spirit from the choir’s soaring voices. I watched the clock, counting down the minutes until I was freed from the cacophony. That was the last time I attended a Messiah performance, which is a lot harder to avoid than you would think. I have lived in areas with church music leaders who esteemed themselves Mormon Tabernacle worthy, where The Messiah was a required yearly performance, which includes weeks of badgering to attend the aforementioned awesomeness.(2) Blech.

There is one Christmas song that does get to me. Every. Single. Time. I don’t avoid it, but I also don’t seek it out. I guess it seems more magical when I hear it by accident. By accident was the way I heard it the first time. I was six years old and a full-fledged tv addict. Television was a good way to block out the chaos of the foster home I lived in. It also kept me out of trouble with the unpredictable adults. Nothing is more appreciated by angry grown ups than a kid who is quiet and occupied by tv. My six -year -old Christmas season was good because that is the year I discovered the magic of claymation holiday tv specials. I loved Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and The Abominable Snowman. Anything with Burl Ives narrating was cool. The last claymation show I saw that season was The Little Drummer Boy. As the story unfolded, it was all new to me. Although I had been schlepped to every variety of church that had a way to pick us unloved children up, I had missed any references to baby Jesus. Christ was an abstract nothingness that we occasionally prayed to if the religious denomination we were visiting required it. If you haven’t seen it, The Little Drummer Boy tells the animated story of a poor orphaned child who discovers the Christ child lying in a manger and feels compelled to give Him the only gift he has, the talent of drumming. The boy performs for Mary and Jesus and feels the joy of being loved.

As you can imagine, the story resonated with my cold, lonely heart. I felt a kinship with The Little Drummer Boy and through that tv show, found a way to access Christ that made sense to my tender heart. I bit my quivering lip to prevent outright bawling as The Little Drummer Boy transformed from being an angry, bitter outsider to a happy child. I wanted to have that same healing for my own battered soul. It gave me hope that I too, could be loved by Jesus. I didn’t know why, but my heart felt a mysterious deep warmth that I had never experienced before. It made me happy, just like The Little Drummer Boy.

I haven’t forgotten what I have come to understand was my first testimony of Christ. Every time I hear “…and he played for Him, par-rum-pah-pum-pum, rump-a-pum-pum….” tears spring involuntarily to my 44 year-old eyes. Now that is what I call The Messiah.

1. Yes, I know I wrote two weeks ago about how “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is important to me because my husband proposed marriage to me during the singing of that hymn during Sacrament Meeting. I love the personalized meaning of that song, but I still don’t want to hear it continuously during holiday season.

2. One year an over-enthusatic choir director asked me to join his Messiah production. He obviously didn’t know anything about me, including whether I could carry a tune. Rather risky on his part, I thought. It wasn’t hard to decline his invitation.