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Opinion Dear True Love — thank-you notes from the Twelve Days of Christmas

The famous song, in thank-you notes.

First Day of Christmas

Dear True Love,

Thank you so much for the partridge! What a lovely thought. You know how much I love birds. It looks great in the pear tree. I have named it Ronald.

Have a wonderful Christmas!

Second Day of Christmas

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Dear True Love,

Wow, two turtle doves! I’m blown away. You are so sweet. And another partridge! You’re right — Ronald would have been lonely. I am naming her Nancy. They are all singing beautifully together.

Thank you so much for a lovely gift.

Third Day of Christmas

Dear True Love,

Thank you so much for the three French hens! One French hen would have been impressive enough — three is really something. I guess the first two turtle-doves would have been lonely without another pair, so thank you for bringing those by as well. Ronald and Nancy seem a little confused by their new friend, whom I am naming Mikhail, but I am sure they will grow accustomed to him in time.

Thank you again.

Fourth Day of Christmas. 

Dear True Love,

Thank you for the four calling birds. You really took it to heart when I said that I liked birds. I only got you a sweater, so, please, don’t feel obligated to get me anything else. Certainly not more birds. There isn’t that much room here, and I am quite happy with the 22 you have already brought me. It will be a challenge to provide them all with a good home. Also, not sure why you brought three more French hens today. Those can’t be cheap, and, as you know, I already have three.

The two new turtledoves are fighting with the first pair, one of whom has flown into my closet and won’t come out. Ronald and Nancy still seem mistrustful of Mikhail. The new arrival, whom I have named Partridge 4 because I am fresh out of names, is not helping things. There is no room for another tree.

Thank you for the wonderful thought. Please, no more birds.

Fifth Day of Christmas

Dear True Love,

I so enjoyed our lunch today and your gift of five gold rings.

Please tell me it is not true that you came by the house while I was gone and dropped off four more calling birds, three additional French hens, two more turtle doves, and another partridge. I explicitly told you not to. I am a little frightened to go home.

Really, your presence is gift enough.

Sixth Day of Christmas

Dear True Love,


I don’t know where you are getting all these animals. I worry that you are a bird hoarder. One of my neighbors has already called to complain about the bird noise. Yesterday, Partridge 4 made a mess on my favorite rug. The whole house smells like feces.

I must go, one of the geese just laid an egg.

Seventh Day of Christmas

Dear True Love,

Please stop. I never did anything to you. Look: I do not want you dropping off any more birds at my home. I don’t know where you got this tank of swans. They are vicious. They bite. The twelve geese are frightened of them. Partridges 5, 6, and 7 make threatening noises at me whenever I try to make them go outdoors. My house has become a hell. Stop this, please. No more birds.

Eighth Day of Christmas

Dear True Love,

Oh God.

When I said “No more birds,” I never thought that this would be your response.

I don’t know where you got eight milkmaids. Do I want to know? I do not think so. At first when they showed up on the doorstep I was sure they had the wrong address. Then when I realized what was going on I tried to pretend that they had the wrong address. But the UPS guy knows me by now because I had to sign for all those miserable birds.

I tried to find them hotels but they didn’t want to leave. They said they would “just stay and milk.” I don’t want them to stay. I don’t want them to milk. I never asked for this. Can you come take the milkmaids at least? I will figure out the birds on my own.

Ninth Day of Christmas

Dear Love,

Today I turned off all the lights and hid upstairs in a closet pretending not to be home in case anyone came with a package I had to sign for. I would have gotten away with it, too, if that turtle dove hadn’t bitten me.

There was a small crowd around the house when I came out. Nine ladies were dancing on the doorstep, and eight more milkmaids were with them. When I looked into the tank the number of swans had tripled.

I called you six times. I want to see you. I need to understand why you are doing this. Did someone tell you this was the way to impress a woman? If so, he lied.

Please, cease this now. I do not want anything you can send. I don’t have room to house any more people. I jump at loud noises, thinking that a partridge is coming for me.

Tenth Day of Christmas

Dear You,

There are ten strange men jumping up and down in my house. They claim they are lords. I don’t know. I don’t know anything any more. They are frightening the birds.

This morning I tried to hide from the UPS man again, but one of the milkmaids signed on my behalf.

I have left my house and taken a small apartment. Do not try to find me. Do not send me anything further. Your persecution must cease.

Eleventh Day of Christmas.


I don’t know how you found me. Did I do something to you that made you hate me? I am trying to go through my whole life to think of what I did to deserve this, but I can find nothing. In third grade, I punched Zachary Malone. But he asked me to do it.

I said I liked birds. Maybe I even said it would be nice to see ladies dancing. But I never said I liked pipe music. Of this I am certain. I cling to this fact.

Yet there are eleven pipers, piping, outside my window now. One of them is holding a partridge. I think the partridge is mocking me.

Twelfth Day of Christmas


Today I returned to my home.

Here is what I have.

Twelve drummers, drumming. Twenty-two pipers, piping. Thirty strange men jumping up and down. Thirty-six ladies, performing an elaborate choreographed drum-pipe dance. Forty milkmaids. (They have a cow with them, but I do not like to count the cow.) Forty-two swans, crowded painfully into a tank built for seven. Forty-two geese and more goose-eggs than I can shake a stick at. Forty gold rings, although I am going to sell them to pay for the removal of all these animals. Thirty-six calling birds, calling. Thirty french hens. Thirty! I thought six was bad. Twenty-two turtledoves, including the one who bit me. Twelve highly agitated partridges.

You are sick, sick, sick. I never want to see you or speak to you again. I have been reported for animal hoarding and noise pollution. There is no surface in my home unpolluted by the touch of a filthy bird. 

Ronald bit a policeman today.