Skip the lords-a-leaping
Have you purchased your partridge in a pear tree yet this year? Received your three French Hens or two Turtle Doves? Ordered your seven swans for this Saturday? Neither have I.
I must admit, I’ve never really understood the meaning (or the appeal) of this somewhat nonsensical song. Not to mention the nauseating, repetitive chorus that drones on and on. Just exactly who takes their instructions for gift giving from this carol? As far as I know, I’ve never met anyone who believed a great Christmas present would be to send 12 drummers to someone’s house on January 5.
Each year, PNC Bank measures the consumer price index to come up with an approximate cost of purchasing the twelve days’ worth of gifts for your true love. The price tag for 2016? Somewhere around $34, 363.49.
In case you’re curious, the price of Turtle Doves increased nearly 30 percent this year, due to lack of availability. There’s also been wage increases for pipers and drummers this year… so you can expect those musicians to cost you a little more than previous years.
Perhaps some of the absurdity of this song is the over-the-top nature of the suggested presents. Of course, part of the joy of this season is giving meaningful gifts to those we love. But the suggestion that one ought to engage in such extravagant gift giving in order to show care toward others seems a bit out of line with our Christian understanding of love.
After all, it was Mother Teresa who once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can all do small things with great love.” Even if one could afford the $34,000 worth of suggested Christmas gifts, perhaps there are smaller yet more meaningful (and less expensive) ways to convey our love toward others.
Perhaps, on the second day of Christmas, consider making two phone calls to people you know who might be a bit lonely this time of year. Forget the five golden rings, and say a handful of prayers for others instead. Skip the lords a-leaping or maids a-milking, and in their place consider a dozen smiles or ten acts of kindness for total strangers.
Our celebration and gift giving certainly doesn’t have to be limited to these twelve days in December and early January. This year, how might we all give the small gifts of grace and joy with great love each day of the year.