Merry Christmas! Or almost. At sunset, the first day of Christmas will begin.

So today’s song has to be “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Here you will find a cool site that clarifies the twelve days, with Christian symbolism for each of the gifts. The symbolism is associated with the story that this song was a means of hiding the catechism in times of persecution, a story that you often hear these days. Here is a debunking of that story. The debunking is pretty thorough — more thorough than necessary, really, since music historians are unanimous in agreeing that there is no evidence for the story in the first place. It is interesting, though, if you have some leisure this morning.

If you have a lot of leisure, you might like to try this math problem based on the song (or if you just want the answer, go here), or this one. Here’s more detail. If you have little children to amuse, you might prefer these coloring pages showing all the gifts.

When I was a little girl, we spent the 24th cleaning our bedrooms. The idea was that we, as overexcited kids, needed something to occupy our time. Today, my kids will be going out to pick up the food for our feast from the butcher and the baker (the candlestick maker is not involved). I will clean up the astounding mess people made yesterday while I was at work and do a little more cooking and baking. We have music practice and church tonight, and will open presents. After sunset, there will be no more work. And there won’t be a whole lot of work before sunset, either. The time for preparation is past, and now is the time for frolicking and enjoying the fruits of our labors.

In case you were wondering, the last gift did indeed arrive, and I did complete the mysterious craft project, too. I told the kids last night (after I got up in the middle of a movie to make Jam Thumbprints, because how can one rest until the Jam Thumbprints have been made?) that I intended to sleep in this morning. They scoffed. And they were right. But, as they pointed out, I would at least not be waking up at 2:30 thinking I had to go make the Jam Thumbprints.