Faithful Living: The last 7 days of Christmas

By Joan Bay Klope

“I actually like Christmas music,” my 46-year-old brother, the college professor, admitted to me the other day. We both subscribe to XM Radio and each time I’ve turned to an all-Christmas station this week, I’ve thought of Brian and his surprisingly sentimental revelation.

That’s one of the beauties of music: It’s a great unifier of people, and my research into the history of the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” has provided revelations I didn’t expect. Last week we considered the meaning behind the gifts given during days 1 through 5; this week we examine all the rest and it turns out it’s a peek into church doctrine and history.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... six geese a-laying.

Because eggs traditionally symbolize new life, the geese are to remind us of the six days of creation described in the book of Genesis. This fits in nicely with our family’s long-standing tradition of eating an egg casserole Christmas morning after all of the gifts have been opened. I pair it with juice, coffee, a blueberry coffee cake and fresh fruit. The meal holds us over nicely until the late afternoon when we enjoy Christmas dinner.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... seven swans a swimming.

Graceful swans are to remind us of the seven gifts of grace, all important and portioned out to us by the Holy Spirit, Who actively works in these modern times. The gifts are listed in Romans 12 and include prophesying, serving, teaching, encouraging, contributing, leadership, and mercy. Take a few minutes to look over this list and identify one that naturally fits the way you most enjoy interacting with people. If you are not sure, ask someone who knows you well. Then “gift” someone this holiday season with you and experience the joy.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... eight maids a-milking.

Milkmaids, reminding us of humble servanthood, represent the eight Beatitudes (or blessings), listed in the book of Matthew. Choose one situation listed below and bless someone in your life this holiday season:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven;

Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted;

Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land;

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after justice, for they shall be satisfied;

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy;

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God;

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God;

Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... nine ladies dancing.

The nine ladies dancing represent the Fruit of the Spirit, listed in the book of Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I’m choosing to practice patience this week. What is your choice? Remember, you are modeling one of God’s traits to those around you. It’ll be challenging, but even the littlest of tasks will matter.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... 10 lords a-leaping.

During the Middle Ages, lords could, to some extent, define the law within the boundaries of their own land. The lords, here, are intended to remind us of the 10 Commandments, found in the Bible’s Old Testament book of Exodus, chapter 20. We have a game closet at our house and never is that closet so used as during the holidays when the idea of playing board games frequently comes to mind. Introduce a new game this season and talk about the importance of rules. They help bring sanity and order to our lives.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... 11 pipers piping.

The 11 pipers are intended to remind us of the disciples of Jesus who remained faithful, even during extreme hardship and personal danger. Conversations about staying true to one’s faith or the values your family embrace can happen naturally, but you’ve got to slow down and find an activity where conversations can take place. Decorating cookies this Christmas might be a great time for gentle conversations that can help your family members identify ways of showing faithfulness this year. It might be as simple as being happy for others who get cool gifts, being patient when people come to visit, and changing routines with a smile.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ... 12 drummers drumming.

Drummers establish rhythm when marching and these drummers symbolize the 12 doctrines listed in the Apostles’ Creed, an ancient summary of Christian beliefs. This is the perfect time to make use of “Google,” that ever-amazing Internet search engine which has worked its way into our everyday lives. “Google it!” and see what the creed is all about, and don’t forget to surround yourself with beautiful Christmas music this holiday season. It’ll help your own spirit soar and bring amazing sweetness and calm to your surroundings.

So slide behind the wheel, turn up the Christmas music, and let the singing begin. There’s joy—and a few lessons—to be enjoyed this holiday.

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