Looking back on the Twelve Days

What an interesting project this has been! The responses have been fantastic. Shockingly, many people have told me that they’ve participated on every song. That takes a special kind of dedication, so at the risk of overstaying my welcome I am emboldened to share some impressions. (Links to all twelve pages appear at the end of this post.)

I was fortunate to have great music teachers. I followed my sister Judy in taking organ lessons from the late Jack Framke, shown with me on the left during a 2010 visit to Arizona. I followed my brother Tom in joining the St. Patrick HS Chorus, directed by Brother Konrad Diebold, FSC. That’s BK on the right at his retirement party in 2013. (Between us is my classmate Rich Ruh: we doubled to two proms.) The influences of Jack and Brother Konrad continue today.

You don’t do a project like this without learning something. Living with the consequences of your decisions is always instructive, so much of that learning started with decisions.

The first decision was to make this not a concert but a singalong.1 That meant that the songs would have to be both familiar and singable.2 I’m delighted that so many people have told me that they actually did sing along.3

The second decision was the Twelve Days of Christmas organizing scheme.4 Turns out there are two ways to count the days: one that starts on the day after Christmas and includes Epiphany, and one that starts on Christmas and goes to Epiphany Eve. I used the second one.5 A lot of the listeners have indicated that they enjoyed the opportunity to sing Christmas songs after they weren’t being played anywhere else.

The third decision was to include both sacred and secular songs. People seem to have been all right with that. I was shocked to discover how many secular Christmas songs are actually getting-ready-for-Christmas songs, and didn’t fit within the Twelve Days format.6

But the main learning from this project was that I have so many friends who were willing to share this Christmas in this special way. This has been a difficult year, and we’ve learned, I think, that we need to feel that we’re together. Singing these songs in different places on individual schedules may have helped with that. I hope that you enjoyed this little experiment, and like the Muppets and that wonderful song about the figgy pudding, I wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Following are the pages for the twelve days. You can use this list to sing along with the whole list of songs. (If that doesn’t get it out of your system, nothing will.)

Notes:

  1. I’m neither a concert pianist nor a vocal soloist.
  2. To come up with the twelve songs, I started with a list several times that. I practiced some for weeks only to discard them at the last minute.
  3. Probably because that way they could drown me out.
  4. Actually, I had to look up the concept since it’s really more British than American.
  5. Fun fact: originally I envisioned an “Advent Calendar” scheme, but that would have involved 26 days this year, and I just wasn’t up for that.
  6. Examples: The Christmas Song. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. White Christmas. Silver Bells. We Need a Little Christmas. Merry Christmas, Darling. I’ll Be Home for Christmas.

Author: StgCoach

Retired teacher and public education leader. Pastoral musician, community activist, parliamentarian, and photographer.