Thursday, December 19, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas

by H. Linn Murphy

My family has had a storied past with the Twelve Day's of Christmas. It's 12 days worth of small little gifts mainly to show the recipient that someone is thinking about them. We love it because doing it gives us a chance to step outside ourselves at a time when selfishness can run rampant. Kids actually go ga-ga over being the runners. Ours used to fight over who got to carry the gift and who got to ring the bell.

I lived in Oregon for a year or two after high school. My parents had a home there for eight years. Everyone knew them. And let's just say my mom is very outgoing. We had a different family over for scones every single Sunday when we first moved up there. Mom's friends ranged across a broad spectrum, from little old widow ladies and homeless people to a Romanian man who taught Mr. Steinway's son how to build pianos.

After some years, they moved down to sunny Arizona, leaving my sister and I to clear up loose ends. One of those ends happened to be Patricia, one of Mom's widow friends. We knew she was desperately lonely, so L and I decided to do the Twelve Days of Christmas for her. We went down and bought things we figured a lady in her situation would like and could use: fruit, fluffy slippers, cans of soup, a back scratcher, and Bing Crosby Christmas music to name a few.

Every day, starting the 13th of December we'd sneak over and take turns dropping off a gift at her door, ring the doorbell, and bail. The other would hide and watch the door if they could. Often there wasn't anybody home, so we'd have a nice leisurely jaunt to the car.

One day nearly at the end of those twelve days L dropped something and dinged and ran back to me. Just as she dove behind the bush I was occupying, the door opened. A youngish pregnant woman bent down and picked up the gift. In a loud voice she said, "I don't know who you are, but Patricia moved. You should come get the gifts we didn't already eat." L and I sheepishly retrieved the inedible presents, vowing to call Mom and find out where our target moved.

And here we thought we'd been so sneaky. That's half the fun, though. And if you can see their face, it's all the payment you need. Most of the time we try so hard not to get caught that we don't have the opportunity to watch. Still, we can be assured that at least one corner of the world got a little brighter that Christmas.

So now I've got to go put the rest of the groceries away and stash that little box of orange Jello my new target said she liked in my bag o' 12 Days stuff.

You have two days to plan yours, Ladies. Or you did when I wrote this. Now you're a little late, but nobody dictates whether you can spread the cheer after the frenetic holidays are over and everybody's kicking back like a portly lady taking off her girdle. And by the way, you don't have to wear a suit. In fact, we favor ninja clothes.

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