My family traditionally opened presents on Christmas Eve, so the Twelve Days of Christmas confused me. Heck, we barely did one. But I never found leaping lords and diverse birdlife, i.e., laying geese, swimming swans, turtle doves, calling birds, partridges housed in pear trees, and hens of French origin all that appealing in the first place.
But I get it now. No, not the lords and birds. I get the Twelve Days of Christmas because I counted and my calendar contains at least twelve holiday-themed events before we even make it to family on Christmas Day.
This observation comes with zero complaints, but it does feel a little disjointed with all the violence and fears and anger and arguments in the world right now—especially since the most recent tragedy occurred at a holiday party. Peace on Earth seems a little, well, laughable, if it wasn’t so sad.
The feeling is familiar. When Hurricane Katrina devastated our community in 2005, it seemed a little odd to have a holiday party that year, too. (We may have worn ugly sweaters, but mostly because that’s what arrived on the relief truck!) But I concluded then that we needed to celebrate even more. After all, given my particular faith tradition, the story of the season revolved around a family with nowhere to sleep.
Maybe that works this year, too. (There was after all a violent infanticide in the Christmas story.) I’m not thinking that “Peace on Earth” is such a terrific phrase right now, at least not if we expect signs of that coming true anytime soon. But, any celebration that talks about Hope seems timely. And anything at all that produces a measure of Joy sounds pretty good, too. As many songs and gifts and love and light as we can muster is a pretty fantastic idea when it’s dark outside.
If it takes twelve-plus days and parties to make a little dent in the darkness, then bring on the egg nog!