Throughout my entire childhood and into young adulthood, I never understood the meaning behind the song "The 12 Days of Christmas."
I kind of got the whole leading up to the Epiphany thing because I heard about it in the religion classes at the school I attended. But we never really had a day of merrymaking at the end of the 12 days, and I certainly never got to open a new gift for 12 straight days, which partially explains my confusion.
Mostly, I never understood why anybody would want to receive "10 lords a-leaping," much less a "partridge in a pear tree." I'm sure they are very nice, and perhaps meant a great deal to folks in the mid-to-late 1700s, when the song was supposedly created.
In any case, I've come to realize that "The 12 Days of Christmas" actually foreshadowed a fairly new phenomenon related to the changing face of the American family.
"What day is your family celebrating Christmas?" is a pretty common question. Actually, "days" is more accurate, as I doubt anybody with multiple family members celebrates the holidays on one day. Sometimes, Dec. 25 might be one of those days.
It's just the reality of the times. The one thing we've learned over the years is to just roll with it.
I wonder how many people will actually have a house full of family members wake up Christmas morning and have what might be considered a Norman Rockwell type of day. You know the type, where kids come barreling down the steps at the first hint of daylight to find that Santa has indeed worked his magic again.
More likely, the day is spent planning how to transport multiple piles of gifts and food to various locations. Some folks need a degree in logistics to make it all work.
The notion of visiting more than one house on Christmas isn't new, but it does seem the number of houses and the number of days has grown.
More than likely, the Christmas morning scenario, if you are fortunate to have one, is just one in a series of family events. They might all take place on the same day, or they might be spread over several as you visit with various family members, former family members and the new spouse and his or her family.
As people marry, they want to have their own Christmas moments and traditions in their own homes. Mix in a divorce and a second or third marriage, with kids from each, and, well, you have the 12 days of Christmas.
Contact staff writer Barry Courter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6354.