Carol Week: The Final Countdown


This is the first year my girls have been into Christmas music. Like really into it. My 4-year-old likes “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” but they’ve both particularly latched onto “The 12 Days of Christmas,” which my wife has declared to be “my song with the girls,” because she’s already tired of it.

I don’t mind singing it with them—even repeatedly on the same car trip—though “with them” is a bit of an overstatement. Caroling sessions usually go like this:

Me and the girls: On the first day—

Secondborn: No. Let me sing it myself.

Firstborn: We’ll sing it by ourselves.

Me: OK.

They tend to be able to get up to the five golden rings, with my 6-year-old carrying her younger sister along lyrically. Then they start to get hazy.

The girls: On the … ssss … sss …

Firstborn: Sev— no, sixth day of Christmas

Both: My true love gave to me! Six … … …

Secondborn: What is it?

The girls: …

Firstborn: Dad?

Me (singing): Geese a-laying!

Secondborn: Dad! We’re doing this ourselves!

This goes on, in terms of number and item/character. My first-grader can count into the hundreds with no help, but for some reason the rising tally of 12 gifts throws her off. Sometimes she works her way up with no problem, but usually she asks me to intervene, and then I’m asked to bow out again until the next lapse.

The girls: Twelve drummers drumming! Eleven … …

Me: Pipers—

The girls: Pipers piping! Nine—

Me: Ten—

Secondborn: Dad!

Firstborn: Ten lords a-leaping!

Firstborn: Nine … …

Me: Ladies—

Secondborn (simultaneously): Ten lords a-leaping!

Firstborn: (simultaneously): Nine ladies dancing!

The girls: Uh …

Firstborn: Dad?!

Me (miming milking): Eight—

Secondborn: What?

Me: Maids—

The girls: OK, OK! Eight maids a-milking!

Secondborn: Now just us again.

As frustrating as it is musically, it’s really very sweet. And it’s way less annoying than Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.” I can’t stand that song.

What are your favorite/least favorite carols and songs?


8 thoughts on “Carol Week: The Final Countdown

  1. Mark Parsons

    “What’s a partridge? What’s a pear tree?
    I don’t know so please don’t ask me.
    But I can bet those are terrible gifts to get…”

    – ’12 Days’ via Reliant K

    You picked the perfect song for your song with the girls! I’d love to hear you riff on your kids trying to get through ’99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall’ during a long trip…ha! (Ask W. about the time the monkey-boys and I subjected her to ’99 Llamas in the Grass’ all the way across Utah. Or Nevada. Or maybe both…? On second thought, better not bring it up…)

  2. Ruth

    Hope asked me that same question the other day….favorite: Too many!! I love O Holy Night, and Little Drummer Boy. My season isn’t complete until I have heard David Bowie/Bing Crosby’s Little Drummer Boy, and The Muppets 12 days of Christmas.
    But I can. not. stand. Elvis’s Blue Christmas. Second to that is anything by Mariah Carey, or the Spice Girls.

  3. Andrea

    I just introduced your secondborn to The Camel Song by Slugs and Bugs on their Christmas album. There’s a lyric about a tauntaun. It’s pretty awesome.

    1. My brother-in-law went through a Christmas donkey phase (on a Christmas donkey kick?) several years back. I haven’t thought of it since then. Thanks (?) for reminding me …

  4. Mrs. Shallows

    To our daughter’s credit, I can never remember anything after 5 gold rings either. Given my hatred for repeating music (video game sound tracks, DVD menus, etc.) it is no wonder The 12 Days of Christmas annoys me to no end!

    On the other hand, listening to my beloved Mr. Shallows sing O Holy Night is my absolute favorite! Chills. Goosebumps. Tears. Every single time.

  5. Tracey Kelly

    I love ‘Wintersong’ by Sarah McLachlan. The album is one of my favorites; the song is my favorite Christmas song. I get chills and misty eyes every time I hear it.

    Yeah, I’m one of those people that likes sad music.

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