Thursday, December 25, 1997
A Cincinnati 12 Days of Christmas

The Cincinnati Enquirer

If you don't get every single thing you were hoping for today, just remember the true love who gave his girlfriend more birds than any sane person would want. Be grateful you don't have to feed a Chia Pet or clean up after a Smart Clapper.

How do you suppose she felt on, say, the fourth day of Christmas? By then he had presented her with partridges, turtle doves, French hens and colly birds, which I think are just plain old blackbirds. The five gold rings must have been quite a relief.

But then, probably before she could celebrate, he was back with the birds again. Six geese. I'll bet the neighbors were getting up a petition.

Feather fetish

No other Christmas song so frankly wallows in the gift aspect of the season, ignoring snow and bells and food, not to mention its sacred message. Other versions exist that are not quite so obsessed with feathers.

The Scottish true love, for instance, sent an Arabian baboon.

The French sing of one boneless stuffing, two breasts of veal, three joints of beef, four pig's trotters, five legs of mutton, six partridges with cabbage, seven spitted rabbits, eight plates of salad, nine dishes for a chapterful of canons, 10 full casks - and here comes the really French part - 11 bosomy maidens and 12 musketeers with swords.

What a party that must have been.

Of course, the English version gets a little less gamy after six geese and seven swans. The true love delivers eight maids a-milking, nine ladies dancing, 10 lords a-leaping, 11 pipers piping and 12 drummers drumming.

He must have thought she was running a Holiday Inn.

Employees at a bank in Philadelphia, who have way too much time on their hands, figured out that the birds, rings, dancers, leapers, pipers and drummers would cost $55,086.26.

No leaping lords for us

Here in Cincinnati, we have better ways to spend our money. And time. For instance, Gail Conner of West Chester made her annual Christmas Eve trip downtown to the FreeStore/FoodBank to dispense 8,500 toys she bought with her own money and wrapped with her own hands.

Ruth Koehl, who lived modestly in Oakley, this year bequeathed $3.8 million to the people of Cincinnati. No strings.

Victor Cave, 3, will spend his first Christmas with his father, who got custody after his mother left him in an abandoned car. Enquirer readers sent Alamin Cave money, clothes and toys when he said ''I have exactly nothing for my little boy.''

Former FBI agent Jim Ader, who rescued the kidnapped child of a local restaurateur in the early '70s, got a priceless rescue of his own - a new liver. He has dedicated his new life to promoting organ donation. On Dec. 1, he logged his 94th speaking engagement.

Joey Newcomb, who was paralyzed two years ago in a diving accident, graduated from Elder High School in June, walking up to the stage to collect his diploma.

It has been a fine year.

And if you can bear just one more blast of seasonal goodwill, I'd like to say that you're a great big present yourownself. I had no idea we would become such close friends. Thanks for the pictures of your kids and grandkids, the telephone calls, the faxes, the poems, the letters.

Thanks for trusting me with your secrets. And thanks, especially, for reminding me that for every loud-mouthed fool, there are a thousand people who quietly are as good as they can be.

Twelve days? Twelve times twelve. We saw what we were made of in Falmouth and at the foot of the police memorial. If you look around, you can see people who show up when they're needed, making things you can't buy and giving time they don't have.

True love? I think so.

And not a feather in sight.

Laura Pulfer's column appears in the Enquirer on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax at 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU-FM radio (91.7 MHz), and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.