“On the Twelfth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve drummers drumming…” goes the final verse of the familiar carol. I’m sure that the true love would no longer be my true love if I received such a gift, especially atop all the other gifts of the previous 11 days. Who would want all that noise and commotion at a Christmas celebration?
The gift of the Twelve Days of Christmas, though, I really appreciate.
One year when my children were young and I was a full-time English teacher as well as wife and mother, I discovered that the Lutheran church encourages celebrating the Christmas season from December 25 to January 5, not during the Advent season.
Christmas is not finished on December 25 as all the secular hoopla over Christmas would have us believe. Instead, the Twelve Days of Christmas just begin on December 25. Despite hearing no more carols on the radio or seeing no more Christmas specials on television, we can continue celebrating Christmas and our Lord’s coming to earth many more days.
Christmas Day should and can start with worship, for all festivities do not have to be concluded by the evening of December 25. We have 12 days in which to entertain, relax and enjoy the Christmas tree and seasonal decorations and play with new toys.
We can wear those poinsettia-decorated sweaters and festive angel brooches and munch on the rest of the turkey and extra desserts and cookies that couldn’t possibly be devoured in one big orgy on December 24 or December 25. Christmas cards are still timely if mailed to arrive before Epiphany on January 6. We can continue to listen to Christmas music. We can continue to read Christmas themed books and feel in season.
Some cultures mark Twelfth Night with revelry. I may not indulge in that activity, but only with the coming of Epiphany tomorrow will I begin feeling I’m procrastinating when the tree is still lit in my living room and the crèche is still on display. In the meantime, today I can wish everyone Merry Christmas one last time.
Phyllis Rude, of Anchorage, Alaska, is a former churchwide executive board member. This blog first ran on Jan. 5, 2012. Download Women of the ELCA’s free resource, “Epiphany: Unfolding the Discovery.”