The 12 Days of Christmas: Revisited

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

Remove your

Ten lords a leaping

And your

Nine ladies dancing

Fire your

8  maids a milking

And those

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

Fillet those

3 French hens

Release those

2 turtle doves

And cut down the partridge out of the pear tree.

 

What?

This was meant as a joke?

You mean you do love me?

Oh, well thank you my dear. I loved it.

(geese honking)

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“Tales of Wonder” in Photos – (Part II)

All photos by Jonathan Steffan.

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“National Toy Day” – The news just in. —-mas has just been renamed National Toy Day.

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“The Spies & Mrs. Claus” – The elves are trying to spy for Santa, but Mrs. Claus has other ideas.

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“Tree Talk” – The ornaments come out to play as soon as the people go away.

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Ysabel does her beautiful dance to “Silent Night”

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“A Vigil for a Starry Night” – Does the light the shepherd saw 2000 years ago still shine for me?

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“The Last Shepherd: A Musical”

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“She hides in the shadows, completely unseen.”

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“I’d rather be called a liar than to say I wasn’t there.”

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Curtain call.

“Tales of Wonder” in Photos (Part I)

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Opening number: “Arise & Touch the Dawn” sung between the sketches in “Tales of Wonder: A Drama Medley”

All photos by Jonathan Steffan.

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“Snow Fort” – The girls attack with their snow balls.

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“Santa Daddy” – Suzie wakes up to find Santa at the tree, even though it’s really Daddy trying to keep the dream alive.

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“You Gotta Get Up” – The kids finally got the parents to wake up on Christmas morning.

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“Arise and Touch the Dawn” at the end of the drama medley.

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“Christmas in the Trenches, 1914” – British soldiers hear singing across the trench divide.

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“Season’s Greetings” – Mrs. Banks is anticipating her family’s arrival for Christmas.

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“Jolly Old St. Hick” – Hick gets in the BMW which is lost in the snow. He likes the warm seats. Reminds him of his saddle.

A Vigil for a Starry Night

On a night when the clouds cover the stars like an impenetrable mountain cliff, I wait for a sign. A small tinge up my spine. A desperate plea for the ancient ways to speak once again. I wait for the light, hoping it will come, hoping it will be enough. .

The stars, spread brightly out like colored snowflakes flickering across the onyx sky, reflect a distant constellation, and begin to re-enter the atmosphere, piercing through the fractured clouds, giving faint and distant light to the voidless black, the empty sea, the sandless desert, the vacant abyss that is deep within me. The light, hushed and dimmed by a millennium of travel, is all I have. Is all I ever had.

I wait for the reflection to reach me, hoping one refracted beam from a star long ago still exists, the same ancient light that awakened the shepherd’s eyes one cool and lonely night. Can the light that ushered in a new millennium, awaken a new epoch within me. If so, it might be enough for my heart to go on.

In the midst of tears, in the solitude of our inner being, we yearn to be on that impoverished hill, to understand the magnitude of that sight, a heavenly light illuminating a darkened heart, a heavenly chorus rising to a crescendo of glory.

Will I choose to believe its truth, not blindly though because I know what the light can do for one’s soul.  And though the unbearable pain releases not its grip, I have a question to answer. Does the light still exist for me?

Does the same sky, which God ripped open that night with his right hand, planting angelic heralds of peace on the clouds to rustle awake the shepherds, still exist for me? Can he reach into my clouded heart and announce the truth like a heavenly chorus? If it is so, all suffering and cause of angst still present throughout the world will be no match for the blessed announcement: “A Child is born.”

PERSON

This child is born.

vigil starry night sketch sheet

Sketch #4: Season’s Greetings

I’ll admit it. “Season’s Greetings” is a blatant attempt to pull on the emotional heartstrings of the audience, especially the female audience. Call me manipulative if you like, but it’s a simple concept that I thought of early on as I was starting to write the Christmas show. It’s all about unmet expectations and what that would do to someone like a vulnerable widow. Yeah, it’s pretty brutal. I always tear up and I wrote it and have watched it a million times already. But it illustrates a truth which is too common in our modern world: we get too busy for our loved ones. It’s definitely affected our actors as well, as I’ve had some of them say that it will remind and encourage people to reach out and visit your loved ones over the holiday season. Kimberly, who plays the lead in the show, purposefully choose this script to act because she wanted to push herself and delve into emotions and situations which she has never dealt with before. She’s done a great job. I anticipate many sniffling noses during each of the performances of this play because it is that poignant. I give it a big thumbs up! season's greetings