12.24.08

For the Birds, My Dear Part 2

Posted in Events, Figuratively Speaking at 8:12 am by Marion

SPECIAL HOLIDAY EDITION OF FIGURATIVELY SPEAKING

Happy Christmas Eve to everyone in Fiction Dailyland! I hope today, everyone will slow down, sit with someone you love by a fireplace and enjoy a few hours of peace, calm and hopefulness. Draft someone else’s child if you don’t have one yourself. They’re still having fun with this.

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So let’s wrap up the Twelve Days of Christmas with our litany of gifts for the Epiphany:

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love sent to me

Twelve lords a-leaping
Eleven ladies dancing
Ten pipers piping
Nine drummers drumming
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying
Five gold rings
Four colly birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree.

As a child I enjoyed making private jokes with words, and amused myself by running together the lines so the geese were actually laying the gold rings. Ha ha, we writers just know how to tell a joke!!

What’s so fascinating about this holiday song is the image we have of imagined courtly life. In today’s America, or even in yesterday’s America, we have little sense of the feudal system that reigned in Europe for centuries and frankly, defined our modern world.

I saw some of the big picture in college, when I slogged through book upon book … I was at times a political science major, history major, pre-law, chemistry and English major before finally settling on French. (Seemed a wise career move at the time.)

All those books demonstrated our human (western) progression from a time when class — birth — determined everything about a person’s life. That’s why events such as the signing of the Magna Carta are so pivotal in human history: It marked one of the first times when individuals other than the monarch were able to assert a modicum of autonomy, and participate in making and enforcing the rules.

By the late 16th century we have the rise of landed gentry … another revolution … and while today, it’s considered a bit barbaric to assign rights based solely on property ownership, at the time it was downright radical.

Of all the things I love about this country (and there are many, present administration excluded), among the most precious is our largely classless society — and the idea that if you work hard, you are somebody … and anyone with desire can have a say in the way things operate.

Still we look back somehow to olden days, imagining ourselves either as happy peasants content with our king … or the kings and queens of olde.

And so, this seasonal song remains a favorite, allowing us to be the fortunate lover of a wealthy, aristocratic, suitor, destined to live in a glorious, tapestry-filled castle, with servants in waiting, livestock, peacocks and pheasants running around the yard, and happy peasant farmers who adore us.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM FICTION DAILY!!

FD will return next week

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