The Last Windrow: Let's revisit 'Twelve Days of Christmas' as an outdoorsman

You'll save a lot of money and the lyrics really do work

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Happy New Year!

I've been requested to re-run a column I wrote six years ago and repeated last year, but evidently those folks who read it lost the column and since I'm in the giving mood this holiday season, I have chosen to repeat it.

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I've found through investigation that the "Twelve Days of Christmas" cover a string of days from Dec. 26 through Jan. 6. In earlier years the tradition invited those participating to give a gift on each of the 12 days as a part of the holiday celebration.

The items listed on the original song were thought to be valuable. In today's world, they would be even more valuable.

It has been calculated that if you gave the gifts in the song today the total cost to you would be $45,523.29. If you gave those same gifts each day of the 12 days, you would amass a total cost of $194,951.59.


That is plus tax of course.

In other words, most of us would be tapping into any savings that we had accumulated to give those 12 gifts.

In my personal effort to bring costs into line and streamline efficiencies, I have concocted an idea of how — if you're outdoor minded like I am — you might chisel down the dollar amounts and make gift giving more affordable for the average hunter, fisher-person or otherwise outdoor oriented recipient.

Here's my idea of how the song should really be sung with that thought in mind:

  • Instead of a partridge in a pear tree, we substitute "a grouse in a chokecherry tree."
  • Instead of two turtle doves, we insert "two screaming jays."
  • Instead of three French hens (they can be costly and tend to be a bit skittish), we use "three turkeys gobbling."
  • Instead of four calling birds (actually canaries), we try "four honking geese."
  • Instead of five golden rings (gold is really pricey), your outdoorsman might really like "five ATVs." (Sing this loud and long.)
  • Instead of six geese a-laying, we change that to "six pheasants nesting."
  • Instead of seven swans a-swimming, we go for “seven walleyes biting."
  • Instead of eight maids a-milking (maids don't milk anymore anyway), we try "eight deer a-running."
  • Instead of nine ladies dancing (they're all booked this time of year), we go for "nine wardens watching."
  • Instead of 10 lords a-leaping (lords have better things to do these days), we insert "10 bass a-jumping."
  • Instead of 11 pipers piping (they're now in a union, you know), we try "11 duck calls calling."
  • And instead of 12 drummers drumming (they'll be busy at football games), we go for "12 hunters hunting."

Now, sing the tune and substitute my phrases and you will automatically save, in my estimation, around 45 grand and you will give gifts that keep on giving.

The words really do work! Who needs 11 pipers piping anyway?

You'll also have a song that I and many of my hunting and fishing counterparts can actually relate to.

Of course, you will have to pay the going wage and benefits package for the game wardens, and seven walleyes is one over the limit here in Minnesota, so be a little careful with that.


I know this is the time of year to be honoring time-worn traditions, but really — $45,000-plus for 12 gifts you really can't use? Isn't that a bit much?

See you next time. And Happy New Year! Okay?

John Wetrosky
John Wetrosky (2022)

Opinion by John Wetrosky
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