Okay, now it’s time for a little comedy. There’s no doubt about it, the holidays are stressful. Whether you’re struggling to make ends meet or have enough green to put on a lavish celebration, there is plenty of pressure to go around: the roads are crowded as traffic increases taking passengers to their holiday celebrations and shopping, accidents go up, line-ups are long, housework has quadrupled since we’ve added all the extra baking, decorating and paraphernalia into our homes. As we stand in a crowd of people caroling, we desperately try to stay on key and fake our way through the unknown lyrics of songs we’ve heard our whole lives. We try to live up to our children’s expectations of the magic and whimsy they’ve been promised and attempt to play the perfect host to all the guests we’ve invited to share in our holiday fun. And to top it all off, we insist on portraying the joy and carefree attitude we may or may not feel. Sound rather dispirited? Is there a Scrooge behind these words? Not at all! My point, if I have one, is that it is important to set aside a moment—some time in your busy, crazy schedule, to stop. Breath. And find a way to laugh. Here is one of my favorite comedy moments that puts a smile on my tired face and reminds me not to take it all too seriously.
TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
John Julius Norwich
My dearest darling,
That partridge, in that lovely little pear tree! What an enchanting, romantic, poetic present! Bless you and thank you.
Your deeply loving Emily.
Mr dearest darling Edward,
The two turtle doves arrived this morning and are cooing away in the pear tree as I write. I’m so touched and grateful.
With undying love, as always, Emily.
My darling Edward,
You do thinks of the most original presents: whoever thought of sending anybody three French hens? Do they really come all the way from France? It’s a pity that we have no chicken coops, but I expect we’ll find some. Thank you, anyway, they’re lovely.
Your loving Emily.
What a surprise – four calling birds arrived this morning. They are very sweet, even if they do call rather loudly – they make telephoning impossible. But I expect they’ll calm down when they get used to their new home. Anyway, I’m very grateful – of course I am.
Love from Emily.
The postman has just delivered five most beautiful gold rings, one for each finger, and all fitting perfectly. A really lovely present – lovelier in a way than birds, which do take rather a lot of looking after. The four that arrived yesterday are still making a terrible row, and I’m afraid none of use got much sleep last night. Mummy says she wants us to use the rings to ‘wring’ their necks – she’s only joking, I think; though I know what she means. But I love the rings. Bless you.
Whatever I expected to find when I opened the front door this morning, it certainly wasn’t six socking great geese laying eggs all over the doorstep. Frankly, I rather hoped you had stopped sending me birds – we have no room for them and they have already ruined the croquet lawn. I know you meant well, but – let’s call a halt, shall we?
I thought I said no more birds; but this morning I woke up to find no less than seven swans all trying to get into our tiny goldfish pond. I’d rather not thinks what happened to the goldfish. The whole house seems to be full of birds – to say nothing of what they leave behind them. Please, please STOP.
Frankly, I think I prefer the birds. What am I to do with eight milkmaids – AND their cows? Is this some kind of a joke? If so, I’m afraid I don’t find it very amusing.
Look here Edward, this has gone far enough. You say you’re sending me nine ladies dancing; all I can say is that judging from the way they dance, they’re certainly not ladies. The village just isn’t accustomed to seeing a regiment of shameless hussies with nothing on but their lipstick cavorting round the green – and it’s Mummy and I who get blamed. If you value our friendship – which I do less and less – kindly stop this ridiculous behaviour at once.
As I write this letter, ten disgusting old men are prancing abour all over what used to be the garden – before the geese and the swans and the cows got at it; and several of them, I notice, are taking inexcusable liberties with the milkmaids. Meanwhile the neighbours are trying to have us evicted. I shall never speak to you again.
This is the last straw. You know I detest bagpipes. The place has now become something between a menagerie and a madhouse and a man from the Council has just declared it unfit for habitation. At least Mummy has been spared this last outrage; they took her away yesterday afternoon in an ambulance. I hope you’re satisfied.
Our client, Miss Emily Wilbraham, instructs me to inform you that with the arrival on her premises a half-past seven this morning of the entire percussion section of the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and several of their friends she has no course left open to her but to seek an injunction to prevent your importuning her further. I am making arrangements for the return of much assorted livestock.
I am, Sir, Yours faithfully,