Chances are that by the time this column gets printed, there are quite a few people that will already have their Christmas decorations down and put away until next year. There may be a few lingering souls who will host late parties or the ones who leave things up until January 6 for ritual purposes. There are others that are probably still living in a cookie and eggnog coma among piles of wrapping paper as needles fall off the tree and the sap collect on tacky red and green sweaters.
My family has an annoying tradition of singing at every holiday gathering. We pass out slips of paper and each one depicts one of the twelve days of Christmas. Then, as expected, we take turns singing our verses in a song that goes on and on and on and whoever gets five golden rings is pretty much required to put on a display of showmanship that rivals that one year Uncle Robbie brought down the house.
This year was no different. I forced this tradition upon the ones that I love, but not before doing a little background research to clarify what I always thought, but was never certain.
The twelve days of Christmas happen after Christmas. From December 25 until January 5, during that blurry time when we are suddenly sick of hearing carols and the cookies are thrown away. Those are the days when that lucky person’s true love was giving her (or him?) a whole lot of birds and musicians and fiiiiive goooolden riiiiings.
How is it that this timeless classic is sung way out of sync with our holiday celebrations? And why don’t we embrace the fact that the most warm and friendly time of year isn’t over when the last stocking has been stuffed?
It takes patience to survive the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the holidays. I am always impressed when, during these frantic days, I overhear people stopping to take the time to wish people happiness during the holidays. A random cashier, a neighbor, a distant friend ringing the bell by a red kettle. The genuine smiles and glad tidings makes even the most stressful days a little better.
I could get used to a life like that.
So this year, I’m going to adopt the twelve days of Christmas as they truly are, and carry that spirit of joy all the way into the new year, or at least do the very best I can to keep smiling and giving.
And come January 5, I wouldn’t mind if I just kept going. If twelve days is good, I reckon twelve months of kindness and love to one another might be a little better.
Originally written 12.23.16