The Twelve Days of Christmas: A Funny Story
Peace And Quiet
A few years back I moved to a small village nestled in a valley by the coast. The little house I rented was perched a little higher up the valley. A hundred steps brought me swiftly down to the village. The same hundred steps brought me not so swiftly back. Apart from the prospect of having calves like Arnold Schwarzenegger and lung burn; the location was perfect.
The following months went by in a calm stream. Before I knew it, Christmas was less than two weeks away. I was looking forward to the celebration. The tranquil setting of my delightful little house was perfect for a festive Christmas, all by myself. Eggnog laced with brandy and Kim Wild singing 'Rocking around the Christmas tree.' What could be more perfect!
A Few Nights Later...
I woke with a start. It was the middle of the night. Singing: loud singing surrounded my little house. It sounded like angels were at the bottom of my bed belting out their song (admittedly a little out of tune). Booming singing voices echoed about my home. I stared through the dark. Terrified. Was my time up? Had God and his out of tune angels come to get me? I guessed that was better than hearing a demon rant and seeing red horns glow in the dark.
The next morning I woke up feeling tired. I thought back to what I now realized was a bad dream. I was exhausted for the rest of the day. I couldn't help wondering if perhaps my dream was some kind of wake up call (not literally, although effective). I decided, perhaps I needed to be a better person. Do a few good deeds, that kind of thing.
My parents and siblings wanted a family Christmas with everyone together. Being the calm and quiet person I am, not to mention being sane, I declined the invite to spend the day with my neurotic family. I have spent enough time with my family to last the rest of my life. In fact, my life is probably shortened dramatically, due to the necessary consumption of alcohol I drink to numb the pain when in their company. The chaos that surrounds my family resembles the monkey cage at the zoo. Imagine all those monkeys in coloured paper hats eating Christmas cake, drinking alcohol and playing that ridiculous came called twister. Yeah! you got it, and that's just Sundays.
I rang my mum and told her I'd be coming for Christmas dinner after all, and would she make sure she had enough gin. I could only carry four bottles down those steps.
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My eyes shot open. I lay there in bed. The sheer blackness told me it was still nighttime. I pulled the blankets over my head in a futile attempt to dull the singing voices that floated about my bedroom. Oh! God they're back. The high pitched singing voices and the main soprano (or whatever you call the lead singer) continued their melody, of sorts. The voices seemed louder than before. I cowered in the bed. Praying they'd stop.
I woke the following morning and pulled myself out of bed. Jeez, I needed to get this nightmare under control. I was starting to feel panicky. It seemed so real. The voices seemed so heavenly, well apart from one or two. I realized I found it reassuring that even angels aren't perfect. Perhaps another selfless deed was required.
''Well dear, if you're sure. I must say it's very kind of you! Tiny really misses his walkies. Don't you Tiny?'' Mrs Hill smiled and handed me Tiny's leash. ''Be careful going down the steps dear.'' She added as Tiny and I headed off.
Tiny is a dog, although I secretly believe he was an elephant in his last life. His owner, Mrs Hill had fallen and hurt her ankle, so Tiny wasn't getting his walkies. My second good deed to get rid of the angels was to walk Tiny until Mrs Hill was better. Ten minutes later having tumbled like a hippo down the whole hundred steps. I landed with a bump at the bottom. Tiny was nowhere to be seen. Ah! that's what Mrs Hill meant when she'd said ''Be careful going down the steps dear.'' I reflected rubbing a growing lump on my chin.
I sat straight up in bed. Shrill singing voices sang at the top of their lungs (if angels have lungs). I got out of bed and turned on the light. Nothing. I looked under the bed. Nothing. I stood in the middle of the room. It was as if a hundred voices were in my bedroom singing heavenly songs. I half expected a cloud to suddenly appear complete with angel and harp. ''Oh! God, I'm going mad. And now I'm talking to myself.'' I yelled over the singing voices.
My nightly nightmare continued (my day times weren't that great either). I watered old Mr Tom's flowers while he went to visit with family. I said yes to babysitting next door's twin brats. I even cleaned out their smelly turtles. I rescued a mangy cat with jumping fleas from the river. I offered to do senile Lilies shopping. That was embarrassing. To end my day, every evening I raced down one hundred steps. Desperately trying to stay ahead of Tiny. I was black and blue. My eyes had sunken into purple sockets with sheer exhaustion.
One afternoon among all the chaos that had become my life. I was having a much needed glass of wine with my friend.
''You look awful! what the hell have you been doing and what's that on your chin?'' Johnny asked.
''So much for the pleasantries.'' I scowled. I was that tired rather than make up a story I told Johnny about the singing angels. How real they seemed. I told him about my good deeds. Spending Christmas with my crazy family. I was going mad and desperately needed a good nights sleep.
''So that's why I look knackered.'' I said topping up our glasses. Johnny looked at me in amazement. Suddenly he burst into loud shrieks of laughter. His face went red and he started to howl like a mad man (he his a mad man). I stood looking at Johnny.
''I don't believe you, why am I your friend? I'm having a terrible time and all you can do is laugh.'' I sulked.
''It's the twelve days of Christmas.'' Johnny said.
''What on earth do you mean. Isn't that a song?'' I asked, sitting back down.
''It's a very old tradition here. Every day, for the twelve days of Christmas the village people go to the village church. They sing songs, carols, along with the priest. The church has a loudspeaker, so all the older people further up the valley can hear the service. Because you live up the valley the singing is carrying up to you. In fact the valley would create an echo making it seem even louder.'' Johnny smirked. ''Guess you don't have angels after all.''
My mouth fell open in disbelief. I had to spend Christmas with my family. Walk that bloody elephant. Water flowers, babysit, share my house with an ugly cat, not to mention all Lilies toilet paper (no! I will not elaborate) and God didn't even give a damn.
''That's the most stupid tradition I ever heard of! Why so bloody early? It's like the middle of the night?'' I was almost screaming.
''The same priest looks after a few villages, guess this ones first. Do you want the good news or the bad news?'' Johnny laughed. I glared at him. ''OK the good news it is then. There's only five days of Christmas left.'' On that note Johnny erupted into gales of snorting laughter.
Me? I decided it was time to move.
© 2010 Gabriel Wilson
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