Twelve Days of Christmas?

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On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, five golden rings.

I could handle the rings, but the birds were a different story.

I had already opened box after box of turtle doves, French hens, and partridges, flying around the living room and making a mess of everything. My traditional offering was much simpler, twelve Amazon gift cards that increased by a dollar each day. I thought it was clever and practical. She had other ideas.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, six pugs.

“This needs to stop,” I said. “You’re not even following the song right.”

“You’d rather have six geese a laying?” she asked, with a raised brow.

“No, but that’s not the point,” I said, trying to be heard over the loud barking. “No more animals, period!”

She opened her six-dollar Amazon gift card and left the room, with the pugs following. Our house had been turned into an animal sanctuary straight from Dr. Doolittle. I dreaded what awaited me for the remaining days.

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love wasn’t there.

All the animals were gone too. She had packed a bag and taken the animals with her. I called her cell phone, but it went straight to voicemail. I pleaded with her to return.

“We still have five days to celebrate this joyous holiday together. I was just overwhelmed. I had no idea you would take the song so literally.”

The doorbell suddenly rang. I answered the door and found a pack of drummer boys dressed like something out of a Charles Dickens story. Their bus sped off in a fury, leaving a trail of exhaust behind. I shook my head and stared at the faces of the confused lot. “It’s not a good time, I’m sorry.”

“But, sir,” the freckled-faced British boy in the front said, “This is our home now.”

Irritated, I stepped forward. “If I’m not mistaken, you’re a bit early. The drummers drumming come on the twelfth day. We can discuss this then.”

I closed the door, regrettably, and paced the hall, trying to collect my thoughts. The pressure of a perfect holiday was too much. Bird crap littered the floor amid scattered feathers. Our pear tree had been torn to shreds by the pugs. Everything was on the verge of disaster when my phone rang. It was her.

“I’m taking a drive,” she said. “I need to clear my head.”

“That’s fine. When will you be home?”

“I’m not sure. I’ve got all the animals here. They feel slighted by you.”

I held my tongue. “That’s ridiculous. I’m quite taken with them.”

“You mean that?”

“Of course!”

“Is that drumming I hear outside?”

I moved to the window and saw the drummer boys in our driveway, belting out some tunes. “It’s just the TV,” I assured her. She said that she’d be home later and hung up.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, eight miniature liquor bottles.

It was a gift I could cherish, and the only way I could deal with the birds, pugs, and incessant drumming. We had a full house, and I needed to be on my best behavior. Family was visiting in a few days, which would add to the chaos. I watched another showing of Scrooged just to take my mind off things.

“You’re in luck,” she said, entering the living room. “There’s been a mix-up, and the strippers won’t be here as planned.”

I concealed my disappointment. Of all the things to fall through, our nine ladies dancing would have to be it. I rose from the couch and went to my turntable in the corner. Glass of eggnog rum in hand, I played my favorite Christmas record, John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together. My true love approached, and we embraced as the Muppets filled the room with holiday cheer.

“Twelve days really are too much,” I told her. “How about a normal Christmas next year?”

She agreed and we danced in the artificial moonlight of this cool galaxy projector thing I bought as an early present for myself. Then came another knock at the door.

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