One song that’s never made much sense to me is the “12 Days of Christmas.” Christmas Eve for sure always had meaning, as did Christmas Morning. But… TWELVE days?? I used to wonder this as a little tyke, “Why, in the presence of such a compelling song, am I not raking in the yuletide loot daily for a period of time longer than a week?” Indeed, this was perplexing. My parents had no ready answers to my probing questions on the matter.
Another confusing element to this particular song existed in the actual items given. I could understand “five golden rings” even though we didn’t exactly do jewelry in our house. But what in blazes were, for example, a piper piping, a gessa laying, or a swansa swimming? Why would lords leap, and just what were the criteria to determine that the Hens were in fact French (There was a fleurs de lis tattoo on her comb, perhaps)? And finally, for the love of all that is sensible, WHY would “MY TURTLE” give to me so many birds and all of these other off beat items?! (Seriously, has a turtle ever given YOU a bird? It makes no sense.)
That last mystery was solved a few years later with the discovery that the gifts were actually from my ‘true love,’ not some amphibious pet with a shell that I never actually owned. (Never mind that I’d never to that point had a true love, either. But let’s not split hairs) However, the balance of the song has conspired to keep me baffled nigh these many years. Until now! Yes, at long last, life experience has afforded me further insight into this situation.
Here is how it happened. My Mother-in-law determined that she would like to compile stocking stuffers for the entirety of our considerable horde of children (no small feat). We were not to worry about such trifles as we had other fish to fry. However, a problem with old Father Time arose, and she became fiercely engaged in a losing battle with the ancient codger. A few scant days before Christmas Day, she realized that it was not possible to send the goods the several thousand miles to our home through traditional channels. There was the small matter of pounds of materiel crossing international boundaries, and duties/customs etc. So it was that the cargo was subjected to a series of unconventional methods of purveyance in an attempt to reach us in time for the yuletide celebration. My wife subsequently scrambled to put together alternative collections of items as the great northern stockings stood a snowball’s chance in Death Valley (CA) of reaching us in time.
At this point, the details become a bit hazy. The first leg of the trip saw travel by car or bus, possibly with a detour. Then, considerable time was spent with an acquaintance, who for some inexplicable reason did not see fit to forward the items as previously agreed. Days passed. The New Year came and went. Life returned to something resembling the previous “normal.” Yea, the aforementioned belated items, while not forgotten, were nonetheless essentially written off.
A surprise delivery arrived late in January, obscured in the midst of a barrage of Birthdays and other distractions. In fact, it took a few days before a time was set and the troops assembled in the living room at the same time. But when the appointed time finally arrived, Christmas continued! It was a whole 31 days after the fact, but it was a lot of fun nonetheless. So it was that this year we had the pleasure of experiencing 31 days of Christmas!
This incident FINALLY allowed me to wrap my mind around the concept of 12 days of Christmas. In other words, extenuating circumstances happen. So now, while nature of the gifts in the song continue to mystify me to no end, the extended timeline does not in the least. Think about it. If you were to assemble a collection of rings, hyperactive lords, gyrating ladies, swansas, and geesas, along with a troika of fowl of specific dubious ethnicity and a whole host of other birds, d’ya think you’d be able to make it all come together on ONE DAY!?! I didn’t think so. But it can still be fun.
May your next Christmas season be a long one (but one free of birds & turtles!).