As I was walking through the airport last week, Christmas music was playing. It was one of my favorite songs: “The Twelve Days of Christmas!” Immediately, I started to sing along! The tune is so catchy, and the words are absurd. So that got me thinking on how I might weave this delightful song into a little devotional for the 12 days of Christmas to send out to my families on Christmas Day.
Christmas Day, December 25: On the first day of Christmas, my true love sent to me a partridge in a pear tree. This is a funny verse because a partridge is a ground nesting bird. Most likely, one would not find a partridge in a tree! Maybe this is God’s verse to get us ready to expect the unexpected. That with this birth, Jesus will turn the world upside down and miracles we can’t imagine.
One Tiny Thing: What is one way you will celebrate Jesus today?
December 26: On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me two turtle doves. A turtle dove is a bird that has no relationship to a turtle. Instead, it is the “tur-tur-tur” purring sounds it makes that connects the dove to a turtle. But either way, God created both the dove and the turtle, and called them both good.
One Tiny Thing: How did you get your name? What does the name “Jesus” mean?What does that tell us about God?
December 27: On the third day of Christmas, my true love sent to me three French hens. A French hen is just that a French breed of chicken. These hens were prominent and useful fowls in providing eggs and meat. But now, they are show birds and raised for exhibition. Out of all the gifts the true love sends, this is the most practical.
One Tiny Thing: What was your favorite Christmas present of all time? What is your favorite God gift?
December 28: On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me four calling birds. This is an interesting one. Calling birds are song birds, which is really sweet! But in the original verses of the song, it was four “colly” birds – or coal colored birds, something like a crow or raven! The calling or song bird seems a little more Christmas-like!
One Tiny Thing: What is your favorite Christmas song? What is your favorite Christmas hymn? Why?
December 29: On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me five golden rings. Some people say that the five golden rings symbolize the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, & Deuteronomy – the giving of the law. But Martin Luther uses a gold ring around his rose symbol to represent no end to God’s love.
One Tiny Thing: How will you share God’s love with someone today?
December 30: On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, six geese a-laying. This one is pretty simple. Six geese a laying is about six geese producing large eggs to eat. Some people say it is about the birth of the world, six days of creation. Either way, both ideas are about producing something good.
One Tiny Thing: What might you create today? Paint? Play with kids? Make a special meal?
December 31: On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me seven swans a-swimming. Have you ever seen a swan swim? They are so graceful with their long craned necks. As they move through the water, it is like the spirit of God hovers. Some people say that the seven swans stand for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophesy, service, teaching, encouraging, giving, leadership and mercy. (Romans 12) Swans seem to possess all these qualities.
One Tiny Thing: One is the last time you watched a swan swim? Which gift of the Holy Spirit seems to fit you?
January 1: On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me eight maids a-milking. This verse has to do with food. Maid is short for maiden, a young woman, who has gone to milk the cows, milk to be used in the food for a Christmas party. Some people say that the eight maids are in reference to the 8 beatitudes, the “blessed are they ones..” from Matthew 5. Either way that’s heavy lifting for the maids – to yoke the milk buckets and to yoke the Beatitudes.
One Tiny Thing: What is your favorite Christmas food? Does it include milk? What is your favorite Beatitude? How does that fit into your life?
January 2: On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me nine ladies dancing. What a sight to see – nine ladies dancing their way through Christmas. Dancing gives off nine endorphins, or fruits of the Holy Spirit including love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22) Dance your way through Christmas with love, joy, and peace.
One Tiny Thing: Turn up the radio and dance, do a jig for Baby Jesus! And, then say a prayer for the gifts he brings.
January 3: On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me ten lord’s a-leaping. Just like the ladies dancing through, now we get the lord’s a-leaping. Otherwise, men jumping around! There are Bibles stories in which people are breathed upon, healed, cured, or made to hear or see, and then the people start leaping and jumping for joy!
One Tiny Thing: What brings you joy this Christmas? Is it a pet? A child? Baking? Watching movies? Spend time with that person or that activity today.
January 4: On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love sent to me eleven pipers piping. Eleven is a weird number. No one has ever said “Lucky Number 11!” It’s one less than a dozen, and one more than ten – often the best player number. Eleven is the non-champion of number! So let the pipers play you a lullaby tune on the their wind instruments, and let this 11th day be one of rest.
One Tiny Thing: Take a nap today!
January 5: On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me twelve drummers drumming. Well, time to wake up! No more lullaby with twelve drummers drumming. It’s time to ring out Christmas with a marching band. Jesus Christ is born!
One Tiny Thing: Make a mantra today such as “Jesus Christ is born!” As the day goes on, so will your beat.