Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Real 12 Days of Christmas by Helen Haidle

Real 12 Days of ChristmasReal 12 Days of Christmas by Helen Haidle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was having a discussion with a church friend about whether it was valuable to enjoy Christmas on a spiritual level with all the commercialism and pagan connections of the holiday. I love Christmas, and I have sense I was a child. It isn't even about getting gifts for me. It's about the wonder of the season. As a believer of Jesus, I think there is pressure going both ways for you as far as Christmas.  One one hand, you are encouraged to like the holiday season but give no relevance to Christmas or its origins. On the other hand, some Christians reject Christmas as a pagan holiday with no significance to the actual celebration of the coming of the Messiah as a human baby.  It makes you feel kind of squeezed from both sides at times. Honestly, though, I will continue to be a Christmas freak until I leave this earth.  So I appreciated when my friend loaned me this book to read about one of my favorite Christmas songs, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." 

It's a short, easy read, since it's actually a children's book. Short but very meaningful for those who profess faith in Jesus, and even to those who wonder what Christians believe.  The song dates back to a time in England where there was much religious persecution and people weren't allowed to express beliefs that didn't go along with the official state church.  People used songs to teach about their faith in code  (coincidentally, this was also done with Negro Spiritual sang in the field during the American slavery period to communicate about the Underground Railroad to escape to freedom). This code is spelled out in the song.  I won't go into that because it would spoil the joy of reading the book, since each day is explained as far as its spiritual relevance. However, I will say that this song will now mean so much more to me now when I sing it. 

Christmas is a joyful time, and it's also a tough time because of the stress associated with it. The rat race and the focus on buying presents and keeping up with the commercial cast of the holiday can steal some of that joy. However, I believe that there is simple pleasure in celebrating the holiday with songs such as this and  in allowing the power of knowing that light broke into the world in the form of God as a baby who would grow up to suffer and die for the sins of everyone who ever lived, and many Christmas songs convey exactly that. It is wonderful to know that "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is also one of those songs.

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