Monday, December 10, 2018

Twelve days of Christmas

Photo of the Christmas tree at West Baden Hotel in West Baden, Indiana

Seasons greetings! Can you believe we’re almost two weeks into December? By now, most of you have your Christmas trees up and the house is fully decorated to celebrate Christmas. If not, you still have time for many festivities. 

This year, I decided to do my Christmas shopping early, so that I could enjoy no-rush, thoughtful gift-buying. While I was on call for the hospital in Paoli, Indiana, where I sometimes work, I spent some time thinking about what Christmas really means. For me, it’s simple but magnificent. It’s a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior into this world. His mission was to redeem us from our sins by taking sin to death. He didn’t have to leave heaven to become a human, but he did. He did it so that He could live among us, teach us, and show His great love for us. He gave Himself for us.

His gift to us is why we give to others. Our gifts show our love for others, the way His gift showed love for us. So, in this season that can become quite commercial, I wanted to do something that would show love to my loved ones or to those who need to be shown love. I decided to do some research on the twelve days of Christmas. Here’s what I found (on google):

The twelve days of Christmas mark the period between the birth of Jesus and the visit by the Magi (the three wise men). This period begins on December 25 and runs through January 6. The four week period that precedes Christmas is called Advent. There is an urban myth that the twelve days of Christmas actually represent Christian theology:

1st Day, Partridge in a pear tree…represents Jesus
2nd Day, Two turtle doves…the Old and New Testaments
3rd Day, Three French hens…the Holy Trinity
4th Day, Four calling birds…the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
5th Day, Five golden rings…the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible)
6th Day, Six geese a-laying…the first six days of Creation
7th Day, Seven swans a-swimming…the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit
8th Day, Eight maids a-milking…the eight beatitudes
9th Day, Nine ladies dancing…the nine fruits of the Spirit
10th Day, Ten lords a-leaping…the Ten Commandments
11th Day, Eleven pipers piping…the eleven faithful disciples
12th Day, Twelve drummers drumming…the doctrines of the Apostles’ Creed

This may be a stretch, but I decided it might be a good way to tie in God’s love with gift-giving. Plus, it would be fun. I decided to give twelve days of small gifts to my loved ones, and I also chose a few others who I thought needed some extra love this year. It took some time to buy thoughtful gifts. For example, on Day 1, I bought a single special gift, like a coffee mug or an ornament. On Day 2, I bought a pair of socks or gloves and included two “Dove” brand chocolates. On Day 12, I bought a dozen of something for each person. I tried to make the day of the gift match the number of items enclosed.

Once I bought everything, I wrapped each gift and made tags to go with each gift for each day. The example below shows the tag for my daughter’s first day gift. I also enclosed an explanation of the gift-giving on the first day. Then each daily gift had an explanation of what that day represents (i.e., “The partridge in the pear tree represents Jesus.”)

You can imagine the time it took for me to do this, given the fact that I wrapped gifts for eight people. However, it was fun, and I was determined to serve others during this important season by giving gifts to show love. It helped me stay focused on others, and this act of loving others was a reminder of Jesus’ great love for us.

I think I’ll add this tradition to our Christmas season every year. I can’t wait to see the excitement in the faces of my loved ones as they open a gift every day. Mostly, I just want them to know how much they are loved. How do you celebrate this season, and what are some of your Christmas traditions?

Merry Christmas!

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