Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas Friends and Family

Over the last two years we have fallen in love with one of the sweetest Christmas carols, The Little Drummer Boy. Last year in California we sang it with our grandsons who, in turn, sweetly sang it for my mom keeping the beat on bongos from the recreation room. This year in Kansas we all sang it again just after Thanksgiving for Scott’s mom, and her sister convalescing at home.

We were asked to make a presentation at this year’s ward Christmas party. We chose to focus on this song. Last week we enjoyed a sweet spirit as two little children sang about the little drummer’s gift to the Savior. Scott added three beautiful overhead slides helping everyone visualize the scene. Interpreting the song (see below), Scott suggested we can think of ourselves as the little drummer boy. So, what is our drum? What gift of ourselves might we give this babe who grew to become the Redeemer of all mankind? It is in and through our continual gifts to Him that we, through His grace, become more like Him. Scott wrote:

So to honor him, pa rum, pum, pum, pum -- “Picture yourself a poor, young (orphan) boy, living in Bethlehem, over two thousand years ago. Magi arrive in your little village. They notice you alongside the road, playing a crisp beat on your sole possession, a simple small drum. Appreciating your smile, and your obvious talent, they ask you to come along with them to see a new King. You have heard of the prophecies of a newborn King. So, you go with them to honor Him. As you walk, you notice their golden gifts and all their other finery. Other than your smile and your heart, what gift could you possibly offer the newborn King?

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum, pum, pum, On my drum? -- “After walking a short while to the edge of town, you finally see this King. But you do not see a palace; you do not see colorful, kingly rich robes. You do see him dressed in clothing as simple as your own. You also seem to notice around him a soft, glowing, warm light. Perhaps you are not so much seeing it, as feeling it. You do see that, like you, this King is (for now) very small, and poor. In a moment, you know what you can offer this special king!

Mary nodded, pa rum, pum, pum, pum -- “You ask his mother, his beautiful mother, if you can play for Him. Your drum. You felt loved and accepted as she nods and as you begin to play. It is a new tune you play, a new beat you create that very moment. It seems to flow from deep within. You never heard or felt this particular beat before; but now it seems as natural and as sweet a beat as you ever imagined.

The ox and lamb kept time pa rum, pum, pum, pum -- “Even the animals seem to breathe in and resonate with the rhythm of what you are sharing. You never felt so in tune with your music, and with this good/new feeling you now enjoy. You never want it to stop.

Then he smiled at me, pa rum, pum, pum, pum -- “As you focus on the babe -- this newborn King -- you see him look at you, and smile. Right at you. Somehow you now know, for yourself, that the rumored prophecies have come to pass. More than that, you now know the King himself; his eyes, his heart, and his love.

Me and my drum -- “And even further, that He has accepted you and your talent -- and your heart. And as you smile inside and out, he is smiling right back at you. Decades later, as you look back and recall those precious moments all ‘alone’ with him, you still smile -- deep inside. And you still feel his love -- and his smile – just for you.”

Our prayer is that we all feel the love of the Savior deep in our hearts as we look for ways to give Him the kinds of gifts that only our heart and soul can give.

We know He lives! Joy to the World!


I’m holding Cade, Becky is holding Kyle. Cade is putting his right hand on Sean’s head, and his left one on Ryan’s. At Ryan’s baptism.
We visited Carrie and her family in the Summer for Ryan’s baptism, 4th of July at Lake Tahoe, and a we hiked Yosemite. El Cap behind us.
Sydney and Mike on right, Carrie and Scott on the left, with Cade (1), Sean (6), Kyle (3) and Ryan (8) in the middle.
We held a Vanatter family reunion at great-grandma Dot’s house in Kansas. The family history, American and Mormon history were phenomenal.

After teaching Gospel Doctrine for over three years, Becky was released and now serves as ward education and employment specialist. She still serves as shift coordinator on Thursday evenings at the DC Temple, and continues to work for BYU coordinating the McKay School of Education’s student teaching program here in the DC Public Schools.

After serving in the bishopric for over seven years, Scott was released and now serves as ward membership clerk. He is executive vice president and chief operating officer for a conservative think tank based in the Washington DC area. Scott is co-author of a book published in December 2011, Discoveries in Chiasmus: A Pattern in All Things, available at Amazon.com (and soon also at Deseret Book).

What a joyous year this has been reconnecting with old friends from Utah and across the world.

In most ways it has been the best year ever and in some ways it was the most challenging year ever. But we are grateful the challenges melt away and are far overshadowed by our love for the Lord and the grace He offers us continuously.

With all our love, Scott and Becky