Tomorrrow is the Feast of the Epiphany, the time to celebrate the arrival at the stable in Bethlehem of three travelers bearing three strange gifts. Today is the last day of Christmas, and tonight is Twelfth Night. It's been getting noisy in the apartment, what with all the pipers and dancing gals and calling birds and such. But my true love's gift on the twelfth day is the biggest noise yet: twelve drummers drumming.
The drum is the second-oldest instrument. The voice came first, factory-installed. Then, mimicking the beat of the blood, we started hitting things together. Hands. Rocks. Sticks. Then wood and animal hides were melded… and everything we call a drum started there. So this last-day-of-Christmas gift is ancient, and loud. Twelve drummers is a lot of drummers. A superabundance. Is there a word for a big group of drummers, something like flock or herd or school? I have no idea. So I am going to call it "an exuberance of drummers".
In the end, that's what I think this Twelve Days of Christmas song is all about. Exuberance. Extravagance. Gifts piled on top of gifts. Full measures, pressed down and running over. Calling, leaping, dancing. How many geese does one need? Have six! How many drummers? Take twelve. It's just so much!
At Christmas I feel God whirling and swooping around us like a lover in a Chagall painting. All Christmas long I hear angels in unexpected places. Surely Christmas is (to borrow a phrase from Celtic thought) a "thin place", when and where the so-called division between the worlds, between mortal and the Divine is transparent and permeable. God comes right through. All we have to do is pay attention. And rejoice.
Maybe every place is a thin place, waiting.