Monday, December 15, 2014

364 Presents

I found it!!!!!!  I have been searching for this particular book for YEARS!!!!!  I remember reading it one year when I was about 10 years old, but never saw it again.  I couldn't remember the name of it, and the only description I could think of was so vague that about a zillion Christmas books came up when I searched for it.   Eventually success was mine and this year I am the proud owner of a library copy of The Thirteen Days of Christmas by Jenny Overton.  Did it live up to my childhood nostalgia?  Let's find out, but first as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Most of us have heard the Christmas Song The Twelve Days of Christmas, but to refresh your memory and for reference, here it is.
On the Twelfth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me:
12 Drummers Drumming
11 Pipers Piping
10 Lords a Leaping
9 Ladies Dancing
8 Maids a Milking
7 Swans a Swimming
6 Geese a Laying
5 Golden Rings
4 Calling Birds
3 French Hens
2 Turtle Doves
and a Partridge in a Pear Tree
In this book we get a potential back story for this song.  Annaple (who was christened Anne, but changes her name with frequency depending on her mood.) is a romantic town girl who in the course of taking care of her father, sister and two brothers, tends to become highly distracted and moody.  She dreams of being a goose girl, or waking up to a piped serenade, and all other manner of silly things.  To this end she vows to only marry if her future fiancee can come up to her romantic standards.  Enter Francis, a rich tradesman who wants to marry Annaple, and is well liked by her and the family, the only problem being he is not "romantic enough for her.  The siblings help Francis out by giving him idea's that Annaple has mentioned as romantic, e.g. love birds, swans, pipers and such.  Francis takes this advice to heart and starts off with a bang by presenting the romantic Annaple with a partridge in a pear tree.  Annaple loves the gift and all seems well.  Francis however, being the business man that he is, is not ever content with buying just one of anything and turns out to have bought a dozen partridge's and their pear trees.  Thus starts a daily parade that is added to every morning.  Annaple becomes very embarrassed and inconvenienced (honestly, where does one keep over a dozen French Hens who refuse to lay eggs), even though Francis thoughtfully supplies coops, food and other necessities.  This continues all the way through the twelve days of Christmas, until Annaple finally relents and marries the now suitably romantic Francis.  She is happy, Francis is happy, their family is happy and they all live noisily ever after.
This is a quick read and I still love it.  It has a story and characters, but more then that it also has history and customs that have long since faded away.  I enjoyed learning about celebrating an English Christmas back in the pre-colonial days, and the addition of many ancient carols made it even better.  There was a true sense of joy and celebration in this book that I miss in a lot of the more modern books that insist on adding some element of angst or bittersweetnes to their story.  For such a short book the characters were very well done, all unique and all with their own sense of self.  There really is not a whole lot to say about this book.  It is a very straight forward story, with songs, humor, and history.  The feel of the holiday season comes through very strongly and it will sit on my shelf to be read with yearly frequency.  I recommend it for anybody who loves the holidays, likes to see how other people celebrate Christmas or just enjoy a bit of humor.  You can read this book at any age, and it would be a fun one to read out loud to the younger ones.  I give this book an 8 out of 10 maids a milking.  Just for fun, here is what Annaple and her family ended up with by the end of the 12 days of Christmas.
12 -Partridge in a Pear Tree's
22- Turtle Doves
30 - French Hens
36 - Calling Birds
40 - Gold Rings
42 - Geese a Laying
42 - Swans a Swimming
40 - Maids a Milking
36 - Ladies Dancing
30 - Lords a Leaping
22 - Drummers Drumming
12 - Pipers Piping
For a total of 346 Gifts...
What is your favorite carol/song orgin story?  What is your favorite Christmas nostalgia story?  How excited am I to finally find this book?!?  

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