What are The Twelve Days of Christmas of which we sing?
This dozen days in Christian theology span the time between the birth of the Christ Child and the appearing of the Magi, the Three Wise Men, coming to receive the manifestation of Christ. The Twelve Days of Christmas begin on Christmas day, December 25, and run through the Epiphany, January 6, sometimes called Three Kings' Day.
The tune of the familiar Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, dates back to the early twentieth century. Composed by Englishman Frederic Austin in 1909, the carol is based on a traditional folk song and celebrates the gifts given in this season of celebration.
Faith. Hope. Love. What splendid gifts to receive in any season, at any Christmas, but especially as we draw near to the end of a year like no other we have known.
I so wish for you and for myself, as well, the blessings of these gifts, these three French hens, to carry forward into the New Year just before us. Faith. Hope. Love. May we receive these with open hearts and open arms. May we treasure them. Nurture them. May we share them with those we hold dear both near and far.
May Faith and Hope and Love be given in extra measure to you among us who are remembering loved ones who have left our company and are no longer here to celebrate holidays with us. May the heartaches of their absence be soothed—may your feelings of loss and aloneness be assuaged.
As I have written before, I know these holiday times—these holy days—can magnify all our emotions—joy and sorrow, too. I see your posts on Facebook. My eyes tear as I read, “Grief is like having broken ribs. On the outside you look fine, but with every breath you hurt.” I hear you. I care that you are hurting. I thank you for your honest sharing and telling us of your very real aching, your unfinished mourning—for the leaving of a precious child, a wife, husband, mother, father, sister or brother who has gone through the veil; a missed friend or lover; a pet who has crossed over the rainbow.
I wish for each heartache the gifts of Faith, Hope and Love that whisper their presence and promises of comfort. I wish for you peace. I wish for you a coming someday when your heartache lessens to become sweet, soothing memories that mend your aching and cause you to smile with your recalling of dear loved ones who are now departed.
There is an art to receiving gifts. Sometimes we must wait and weep before we can be ready for them to come whether with the Magi on the twelfth day of Christmas or maybe another day still farther before you. Come they always will like glittering stars in the winter night skies—like fireflies twinkling in summer’s dusk—like three French hens unexpectedly appearing and miraculously gathering on your lawn. Faith. Hope. Love. Come they will. Come they will. Faith, Hope and Love are here already in your holy days of aching. I promise.