Monday, December 29, 2014

The Twelve Days of Christmas Day 4


The Twelve Days of Christmas.  Did you grow up singing that song?  Did you know what the Twelve Days are?  

This is one of my favorite Christmas songs.  It's a little silly, and it can get me giggling; especially some of the sillier parodies of it (like the ones I posted here).  It is not truly a carol, and there really is not a secret, coded catechism for Catholic children.  It is just a fun little song to count down the days to the feast of Epiphany.  

What is Epiphany?  According to Webster's Dictionary it is:

A Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi, traditionally observed on January 6. 

I love to celebrate Epiphany, probably because it lets me continue to celebrate Christmas for a few more days (twelve, to be exact).  When I was growing up, we never "took down Christmas" until Epiphany on January 6th.  Mr. Marvelous and I do the same thing in our home.  Our tree is still up.  The lights still get lit when it is dark.  The Christmas dishes are still being used.  I still have Christmas music playing throughout the day.  I'm even still watching a Christmas movie or two.  For me, this continued celebration/countdown to Epiphany is part of the fun of Christmas.  

In that spirit of fun, I wanted to share a little silly writing that my mother and I dearly love.  I found it on the internet several years ago and it became one of our favorite things to read during this Twelve Days season.  

The Twelve Thank You Notes of Christmas
 by John Julius Norwich

          26th December
          My dearest darling,
          That partridge in that lovely little pear tree! What an enchanting, romantic, poetic
          present!  Bless you and thank you.
          Your deeply loving Emily...
          28th December
          My darling Edward,
          You do think of the most original presents; whoever thought of sending anybody 
          three French hens?  Do they really come all the way from France? It's a pity we have 
          no chicken coops, but I expect we'll find some. Thank you anyway, they're heaven.
          Your loving Emily...
          29th December
          Dearest Edward,
          What a surprise - four calling birds arrived this morning. They are very sweet - even 
          if they do call rather loudly - they make telephoning impossible. But I expect they'll 
          calm down when they get used to their new home. Anyway, I'm very grateful - of 
          course I am.
          Love from Emily...
          30th December
          Dearest Edward,
          The postman has just delivered five most beautiful gold rings, one for each finger, 
          and all fitting perfectly. A really lovely present - lovelier in a way than the
          birds, which do take rather a lot of  looking after. The four that arrived yesterday 
          are still making a terrible row, and I'm afraid none of us got much sleep last night. 
          Mummy says she wants to use the rings to 'wring' their necks, she's only
          joking, I think; though I know what she means. But I love the rings. Bless you.
          Love Emily
          31st December
          Dear Edward,
          Whatever I expected to find when I opened the front door this morning, it certainly 
          wasn't six socking great geese laying eggs all over the doorstep. Frankly, I had rather 
          hoped you had stopped sending me birds - we have no room for them and they have 
          already ruined the croquet lawn. I know you meant well, but - let's call a halt, shall we?
          Love Emily
          1st January
          I thought I said no more birds, but this morning I woke to find no less than seven 
          swans all trying to get into our tiny goldfish pond. I'd rather not think what happened 
          to the goldfish.   The whole house seems to be full of birds - to say nothing of what 
          they leave behind them.  Please, please STOP...
          Your Emily
          2nd January 
          Frankly, I think I prefer the birds. What am I to do with eight milkmaids - AND their 
          cows? Is this some kind of a joke? If so I'm afraid I don't find it very amusing.
          3rd January
          Look here Edward, this has gone far enough. You say you're sending me nine ladies 
          dancing; all I can say is that judging from the way they dance, they're certainly
          not ladies. The village just isn't accustomed to seeing a regiment of shameless hussies 
          with nothing on but their lipstick cavorting round the green - and it's Mummy and I 
          who get blamed.  If you value our friendship - which I do less and less - kindly stop 
          this ridiculous behaviour at once.
         4th January
          As I write this letter, ten disgusting old men are prancing about all over what used to 
          be the garden - before the geese and the swans and the cows got at it; and several
          of them, I notice, are taking inexcusable liberties with the milkmaids. Meanwhile 
          the neighbours are trying to have us evicted. I shall never speak to you again.
          5th January
          This is the last straw. You know I detest bagpipes. The place has now become 
          something between a menagerie and a madhouse and a man from the Council has 
          just declared it unfit for habitation. At least Mummy has been spared this last outrage; 
          they took her away this afternoon in an ambulance. I hope you're satisfied...
          6th January
          Our client, Miss Emily Wilbraham, instructs me to inform you that with the arrival 
          on her premises at half-past-seven this morning of the entire percussion section of the 
          Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra and several of their friends she has no course left open 
          to her but to seek an injunction to prevent your importuning her further.  I am making
          arrangements for the return of much assorted livestock. 
          I am, sir, 
          Yours faithfully,
          G. Creep, Solicitor-at-Law


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