On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me …

I’m a leader, sometimes to the point of being pushy. That’s a natural result of being an oldest child.

Around age 3 my sister Cristin, who is 14 months and nine days younger than me, was a ballerina for Halloween. I couldn’t in good conscience send her to the church fall festival without a few steps in her repertoire, and so I took it upon myself to teach her some basic ballet steps.

I’m now 33, and I have yet to take a day of ballet.

And so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I solved the Mystery of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Growing up, Cristin and I would often sing the song and perform hand motions. (A late-’80s video of this is a family treasure.) But as we grew older, I could never find anyone else who knew these motions. I became convinced it was an Alabama thing. That must be why our Florida brethren had no idea why we jutted our chins back and forth when singing “two turtle doves.”

I moved back to Alabama in 2003, and I was certain that I would at last find my kind of holiday performer. But after months of asking around, I still couldn’t find anyone who knew what I was talking about. I’ve since Googled in search of our kindred, and while there are videos documenting motions, they only occasionally overlap with our performances.

At last, I realized my older sibling tendencies must have struck again. Without any evidence that others know these motions, I deduced that I made up the movements and taught Cristin to follow in the foolishness.

Merry Christmas! Enjoy the documentation of our foolishness, circa February 2003.

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