The Twelve Delays of Christmas

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Turns out this is an aptly titled blog post. I’ve been delaying posting this for several weeks. Not sure why. Hope it’s worth the wait.

This Christmas, instead of wishing for what we don’t have or can’t do, it’s time to be grateful for all we have and to help those less fortunate. Something that struck me lately was the simple saying that it’s good to make yourself happy and better to make someone else happy. It takes so little to make someone’s day and it lifts us up, too.

This is a good year to remember the good times of holidays gone by. I see a lot of people posting throw back photos on Facebook. I’m always a little shocked when I see an old party picture. All those people, up against each other, no masks, kissing, hugging. Then I check the date and it’s always from the before.

I’ve decided to share a poem written by a man I knew from a writers group. I think of that man and this poem every year at this time. I’m kind of glad he didn’t have to see what’s happened in the country he loved and served.

I met Orin Parker in 1998. He was always a lovely man, generous with praise, honest with critique, always joking, quick to laugh. He was a wonderful nonjudgmental Mormon, sweet, with just the right hint of tartness.

He’d led quite a life. Orin determined that he wanted a life of travel and learning. He married Rita Clement after college and began a government job. The learning and travel followed, along with children, as he was posted first in Athens, Greece. He studied Arabic and was sent to Ankara, Turkey.

In 1960, he joined American Friends of the Middle East (AFME), a non-profit educational organization and opened a local office in Baghdad, Iraq, where his fifth child was born. After five years there, the family settled in Bethesda, Maryland. He worked his was up in the organization to become Executive Vice President. AFME grew under his leadership and he began his final posting in Beirut, Lebanon. Civil war erupted after four idyllic years there. The remaining three years were challenging for the family. During that time, while keep the office functioning and his family safe, Orin began writing his first novel, Burial in Beirut.

Orin passed away in January, 2014 at the age of 90. He’d kept attending writers group until a month before he passed. For the last few years, Rita was his chauffeur, guiding him and his walker into the room. She was as sweet as he, no tartness.

Orin wrote six novels and a family history, all published on Amazon and still available in print and ebook formats — A Return to Baghdad, Burial in Beirut, The Embassy, Raja’oun: We Will Return, Lukewarm: A Novel of the Early Cold War, The Father I Never Knew, and The Representer, a novel of American Politic$: Has Congress got a Price Tag?

I am honored to publish, for the first time, Orin’s silly take on The Twelve Days Of Christmas. I present to you this present…

The Twelve Delays of Christmas

On the FIRST day of Christmas my true love said to me,
“My Darling, go buy us a nice Christmas tree.”

On the SECOND day of Christmas my true love said to me,
“Bring the TWO sets of bulbs,
And, Dear, please buy the tree.”

On the THIRD day of Christmas my true love said to me,
“I’ll need THREE strings of lights,
And the two bulbs … and, Love, please get the tree.”

On the FOURTH day of Christmas my true love instructed me,
“Bring me FOUR plastic angels,
And the three strings of lights,
And the two sets of bulbs,
And, Husband, remember to buy the tree.

On the FIFTH day of Christmas my true love raised her voice.
“I’ll need FIVE GOLDEN BOWS,
And the four plastic angels,
The three strings of lights,
And the two sets of bulbs,
And will you PLEASE go get the tree?”

On the SIXTH day of Christmas, my true love glared at me.
“I’ll need six sprigs of holly.
For the FIVE GOLDEN BOWS,
Four plastic angels,
Three strings of lights,
Two sets of bulbs,
And you still don’t know where to find a tree?”

On the SEVENTH day of Christmas, my true love punched my shoulder.
“I’ll require seven garland wreaths,
For the six springs of holly,
With the FIVE GOLDEN BOWS,
And four plastic angels,
Three strings of lights,
Two sets of bulbs,
And Get Up and go find that tree.”

On the EIGHTH day of Christmas, my true love turned off the TV.
“I want eight tinkling bells,
Plus the seven garland wreaths,
For the six sprigs of holly,
With the FIVE GOLDEN BOWS,
And four plastic angels,
Three strings of lights,
Two sets of bulbs, and Dammit, get that tree.”

On the NINTH day of Christmas, my true love went berserk,
“Get me nine books of stamps,
Eight tinkling bells,
Seven garland wreaths,
Six sprigs of holly,
FIVE GOLDEN BOWS,
Four plastic angels,
Three strings of lights,
Two sets of bulbs,
And have you any idea where you’ll find a tree?”

On the TENTH day of Christmas, my true love locked me out, yelling,
“In ten minutes I want everything on that list.”
“List???” Let’s see.
Nine pounds of holly?
Eight elastic angels?
Seven Springfield lights?
Six golden mistletoes?
Five tulip bulbs?
Four garlic wreaths?
Three airmail stamps?
Two tinker bells?
And, I forgot, what kind of tree?

On the ELEVENTH day of Christmas, my true love was really mad.
I’d bought eleven crates containing
Ten garlic wreaths,
Nine outdoor lights,
Eight silver bowls,
Seven mistletoes,
Six fresh-baked bagels,
Five large light bulbs,
Four candy canes,
Three frosted doughnuts,
Two pumpkin pies,
And an artificial ficus tree.

On the TWELFTH day of Christmas I was back on the TV.
She cursed me with twelve unprintable words,
Took back the eleven crates,
Traveling ten extra miles,
Scoured nine crowded stores,
To find the eight decorations,
With only seven hours remaining
Before our six relatives arrived

In their five Chevrolets,
Bringing four lousy fruitcakes,
And their three noisy kids,
Each sucking two candy canes.
We ate our partridge around the ficus tree … and the TV.
See, Christmas isn’t such a strain, after all.


Merry Christmas!! Happy New Year!!! Happy Everything and Everybody!!!

2 thoughts on “The Twelve Delays of Christmas

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