Make 184 Birds in Just 12 Days!

Posted: 27 Dec 2000

My primary reason for being glad that the Christmas season is
over: I will no longer have to listen to the Christmas music
they played at woik.

Admittedly, there was some pretty good variety there; some of
my co-woikers seem to be Christmas-music connoseurs. Swingin'
xmas music, classical, celtic, rap (surprise!), boring crap (a
category which overlaps plenty with all the others), country...
even calypso xmas music. Blues, jazz, etc. I am now familiar
with 3 versions of "O Christmas Tree"; English-language version,
German-language version, and bagpipe-language version.

But they started playing it right after Thanksgiving. Even the
good stuff started to get repetitive by about the 2nd day. By
that time, I was starting to think that if I ever ran into that
annoying whistling kid, he'd have to start wishing for his front
teeth again.

In pure self-defense, I began to analyze some of the songs. For
example, it occurred to me, listening to "The 12 Days of
Christmas" (not the beer-in-a-tree version) that this guy was
getting an awful lot of birds for Christmas. I mean, *I* have
never received even *one* bird for Christmas, ever, but this
guy gets: 7 swans a-swimming, 6 geese a-laying (I'm not very
clear on the days above 5, so I could be wrong about the exact
# of geese and swans he gets), 4 calling birds, 3 french hens,
2 turtledoves, and a partridge. And he doesn't just get one
partridge in a pear tree, either; he gets one on ALL 12 DAYS!
       1 partridge X 12 days= 12 partridges (in 12 pear trees)
       2 turtledoves X 11 days= 22 turtledoves
       3 french hens X 10 days= 30 french hens
       4 calling birds X 9 days= 36 calling birds
       6 laying geese X 7 days= 42 geese
       7 swimming swans X 6 days= 42 swans
for a total of 184 birds.

Now, it strikes me that this could have been another version
of the White Elephant (a gift so expensive that it ruins the
recipient). He can't eat the birds because his True Love gave
them to him; he can't get rid of them because you can't throw
away a Christmas gift! Ever! I mean, what if the person who
gave it to you should happen to visit you one day and notice
that you don't have your badly-made 'craftsy' knickknack, or
ugly figurine, or 184 birds around anymore? So the guy (it
could've been a girl, but the person singing the song... over
and over and over... was male, so I've got it permanently
locked into my brain that way) who wrote that song would've
had no choice but to keep caring for these birds. Bringing
them food, changing the newspapers (or whatever) in the little
birds' cages, taking the big birds (geese and swans, 84 count)
on walks and making sure that their wing feathers are clipped
so they can't fly away. Counting heads to ensure that none of
them has gotten lost. Seeing his money slowly evaporate away,
he has to spend so much money on food, equipment, vet bills,
etc. He has to spend much of his waking hours on these birds.
Since he and his true love come from so rich a background that
they can give each other gifts like 184 birds and 40 golden
rings, he's probably never had to work this hard in his life.
Every day he's tired, filthy, he's got bird-poop all over him,
he's bleeding from all the little nips and cuts the birds have
given him. And the whole while all the lords a-leaping are
jumping around him, making fun of him, having the time of their
lives; and all the maids a-milking are laughing at him; and all
the drummers drumming (I *think* the song has drummers) are
making a godawful racket, night and day, keeping him awake at
night, making it hard to keep a train of thought together...

eventually, he'd have no choice but to throw himself into the
nearest river (lake, whatever), where the weight of his 40
golden rings would drag him straight to the bottom.

But whenever I started to think of depressing stuff like this,
I simply realized: I have to listen to several more weeks worth
of cheery holiday music just like this!


One day, one of my co-woikers called me a 'grinch' for not liking
xmas music. I told her that if I was a grinch, I'd better start
acting like one, and steal Christmas. So I grabbed the CD player
and started to make off with it. Plenty of laughter- they all
thought I was kidding.

Joel T.