previous entry :: next entry

almost 12th

Outside of the song, the twelve days of Christmas don't loom particularly large in the public consciousness. As Americans we seem to prefer looking forward to things and then having them be over promptly; celebratory seasons are maybe not our thing. So it makes sense that purveyors of culture moved the counting to before the holiday itself, with 25 Days of Christmas culminating in the final, most important day of Christmas of them all: Christmas day! Then we can get rid of the trees on the 26th and move on to the next thing.

As an Episcopalian by upbringing I'm held to a sterner schedule. Sure, we count the days of December before Christmas, but that's only Advent, and it's there to hold off Christmas and build up the anticipation. No early Christmas songs—there are plenty of Advent tunes. And of course, Christmas decorations would be totally out of place before the 25th! With all that waiting we can't be done with Christmas in a day, which is where the twelve days come in. There's gotta be lots of time for partying, and for admiring the greenery you put up in a frenzy after dark on Christmas Eve (n.b.: we don't do that; our frenzy is reserved for finishing up gifts).

We actually did a fair amount of long Christmasing this year, what with our big party on the 28th and the extended vacation (thanks to New Years Day being on Thursday). But all good things must come to an end, and Leah asked the other day when we were taking the tree down (even though she says she doesn't really hate Christmas). The thing is, despite my English Church heritage, I'm never quite sure when twelfth night falls. But it's not my fault! It's just that it's hard to keep track of a season that nobody else is observing! Thankfully wikipedia was there to set me straight; but I vowed at dinner this evening that for next year we'd have a calendar—like an Advent calendar—to mark each of the days of Christmas. The boys want to keep track too, if only because they know they can't start eating their gingerbread houses until Christmas is over (I told you we're serious about this stuff!).

Checking the encyclopedia and counting the days three times on the calendar I was able to determine that tomorrow, in fact, is the twelfth day of Christmas, and we'll be taking the tree down accordingly. But as it happens I didn't really need either of those methods to tell me that the season is almost over, since I had a certainer, more ancient sign: I finished the home-made candy my mom gave me for Christmas. Goodbye Christmas for another year; Harvey is already counting down the days until next year's celebrations (that is, when he's not asking how long until we go camping).

previous entry :: next entry