In the spirit of the season, I’m happy to publish below a little piece I wrote earlier this year entitled “The 12 Days of Christmas Revisited.” It was performed brilliantly by Seth Kelly and the RLT Players in their recent Christmas show. It can be used and performed with attribution however you like. Try it out on Christmas Eve with your family. Enjoy!
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …
… a partridge in a pear tree.
It’s creative, I’ll give my true love that. Nothing says Christmas like a bird in a tree. I guess it’s that existential relationship between fruit trees, birds, and Christmas that I never learned about. I’m assuming this is a tree in a planter, and come spring I can transplant it in the yard. A symbol of our love growing, perhaps, that it’s stable, dependable year after year. But the partridge. I don’t know. Does the tree come with a bird house? At least it wasn’t a vulture in a dead tree. Chocolates would have been nice.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me …
… Two turtle doves. I’m not sure I like where this is going. On day one, at least I received a fruit tree. And let’s not get haughty and sophisticated about this. A turtle dove is a pigeon. A pigeon. You got me two pigeons for Christmas. What is wrong with you?
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me …
… three French hens. Okay, hens are a step above pigeons. They have some practicality. But is this a hint, my true love? Have your eggs not been fresh enough lately? How would you like your omelet?
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me …
… four calling birds.
What is this fascination with birds, my love? We are only on the fourth day of Christmas and my house is starting to look and smell like an aviary. That’s 10 birds. You gave me ten birds in the last four days. How much do my relatives hate me? I’m an ophthalmologist, not an ornithologist.
(yelling to the birds)
Get down from there.
(bird poops on his shoulder)
Really. You had to do it right there, didn’t you?
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me …
… five golden rings. Okay, this is actually sweet. You’re trying to make up for the birds aren’t you. I think 5 golden rings will do that admirably. But I really don’t need 5 rings, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to put them to good use. I’m going to sell this one to build a bird aviary in the back yard. I’m going to sell rings 2 and 3 to buy the adjacent property. It has a nice open field and a large pond. I’m going to sell the fourth ring so I can graft that pear tree you gave me into the perfect strand, and then I’ll plant an orchard in my newly acquired land. And the fifth ring? I’ll keep it … as a symbol of our true love.
On the six day of Christmas my true love gave to me …
… six geese a laying. We are back to the birds? What happened to the gold? I’m going to give my true love a goose egg or two. The omelets are getting bigger. Geese, go, go roam in the pear orchard.
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me …
… seven swans a swimming. I knew that pond would come in handy. Swans, get thee to your lake. And in case you lost count, my true love, you have now given me 23 birds. 23!
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me …
… eight maids a milking. Really. I was not aware that I had cows, even one cow. But enough cows to employ eight maids? In case you forgot, I have birds. Birds! And anyhow, how can you gift me eight maids? Is that even legal?
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me …
… nine ladies dancing. My true love, I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but what is wrong with you? Are we having a party you didn’t tell me about? Is that what all the birds were for and you just forgot to send the skewers? Do I have a say as to what type of dance these nine ladies will be performing?
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me …
… ten Lords a leaping.
(awkward look at the audience)
I am very curious about this one. Ten lords. And they are leaping. Why are they leaping? And are these real lords? Like the British parliament kind of lords? I did not know that leaping lords could be hired out for Christmas parties. Will they be donning their gay apparel? Perhaps a rendition of swan lake? We have the ballerinas, the swans, and a lake already. We could make Tchaikovsky proud. This is going to be some party.
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me …
… eleven pipers piping. Now it’s making complete sense. We needed music to keep those ladies dancing and those lords leaping. My love, perhaps you should sit down, you look flush. You have been busy.
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me …
… twelve drummers drumming. I gave it some thought. And the only thing I can figure is this: The 12 drummers drumming and the eleven pipers piping form the fife and drum corps, so therefore you were not giving me a subtle hint about ballet. No, fife and drum corps can only mean one thing: war. You are at war. With what? I have no idea. Perhaps sanity. Perhaps an aviary has harmed you in the past and you are seeking retribution. Or perhaps you are at war with me. Is that it? You are marching in with fife and drums to announce it’s over. If that is true, then I will tell you what I will do.
Take back your …
Twelve drummers drumming
And your eleven pipers piping
Ten lords a leaping
Nine ladies dancing
8 maids a milking
7 swans a swimming
Cook the eggs of the
6 geese a laying
But I will keep the
5 golden rings
Call away your
4 calling birds
3 French hens
2 turtle doves
And cut down the partridge out of the pear tree.
This was meant as a joke?
You mean you do love me?
Oh, well thank you my dear. I loved it.