Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Ninth Day of Christmas

If I have counted correctly, today is the ninth day of Christmas -- if you happen to follow the tradition that there are 12 days of Christmas, culminating in Epiphany (which is, I guess, the 5th of January, which will be Wednesday of next week).

This year I seem to be celebrating every single day, ending (perhaps) this evening when I will have dinner with my genius nephew.

Google is amazing. (You knew that.) Not being a genius, I used it to look up “The Twelve Days of Christmas” -- to find out what was given by ‘my true love’ on the ninth day. It turns out that the gift could have been one of two things – either nine ladies dancing or nine drummers drumming. (The order of the last four gifts may vary depending on where on this planet people are singing.)

Google also states that the most authoritative version is published in The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, as follows:
     The twelfth day of Christmas, | My true love sent to me | Twelve lords a-leaping, | Eleven ladies dancing, |     Ten pipers piping, | Nine drummers drumming, | Eight maids a-milking, | Seven swans a-swimming, | Six geese a-laying, | Five gold rings, | Four colly birds, | Three French hens, | Two turtle doves, and | A partridge in a pear tree.

Look at it. Do you know what “colly” birds are? They are not a Brooklyn-accent version of calling. Google says colly is another name for a blackbird. And, according to Google, the fifth day's gift of gold rings refers not to jewelry but to ring-necked birds such as the ring-necked pheasant. OR the original phrase might have been “five goldspinks" - a goldspink being an old name for a Goldfinch.

Who knew?

Whatever version of the old song you prefer, today is the ninth day of Christmas and tomorrow I return (along with many others) to my ‘real world’ full of routines and obligations.

I don’t think I have the stamina to celebrate all twelve days – with or without the gifts. I am (this time) grateful for Monday and for routine (except for putting away all the decorations which are still up so my nephew can see them). And I am also grateful for the marathon of celebrations, giving me focused time with terrific people.

Actually, this part of the celebration does not have to end. What if, whenever we were with other people, we gave them our focused attention – really listened to what they said and tried to understand the circumstances of their lives at that particular moment? How cool. I’m willing to bet it would make it a happier new year for a lot of us.

Speaking of which, I wish for one and all, a splendid 2011 – all 363 days remaining.

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