12 Days of Christmas

Stories about the 12 Days of Christmas seem to be everywhere this year – or maybe I just never noticed them before.

Clyde Haberman of the New York Times tried to purchase a partridge in a pear tree.  He found the pear tree with difficulty but had no success finding a live partridge.

…“We’ve got pear trees all over the city,” said Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner.They are the Bradford Callery variety, often called ornamental. Their fruit is tiny and inedible. But their white blossoms are appealing, and they usher in spring. They are so pretty, “they were overplanted for many, many years,” Ms. Watt said. “As foresters, we’re trying to achieve a balance of species and not have too many of one species.”

“We try to steer people away from pear trees,” she said, “which is not helping you in your quest.”

No, it isn’t, but that’s O.K. The city has nurseries. The trouble is that they tend not to have pear trees at this time of year, just when it has dawned on your true love to get cracking. “They would certainly be scarce at any urban garden center,” said Phil Tietz, a salesman at the Chelsea Garden Center, on 11th Avenue in Manhattan. His store was out.

So you have to poke around a bit. It’s doable.

And here is a picture of a pear tree.  Not quite the real thing, but pretty anyway.

The live partridge is a different story.

Much trickier is finding a partridge in the city — a live partridge, that is. Several bird shops were contacted on a lark. None sold partridges. “I don’t know anyone who does,” said Roz Gibson at Birdcamp, a store on East 53rd Street.

Some poultry shops carry them. Chinatown is always a good place to start. But those partridges are almost always, um, dead. Somehow, presenting a slaughtered bird doesn’t seem terribly Christmassy or romantic, unless maybe you’re going out with Tippi Hedren.

“You could just say it’s sleeping,” suggested Jeffrey Ruhalter, who owns Jeffrey’s Meat Market in the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side. Thanks, but no. Mr. Ruhalter had a few partridges in his freezer, but it is “very rare,” he said, that anyone buys them.

There are evidently a lot of small birds that are referred to as partridges and here is one.

And then there is this news from NPR:  If you bought all the items on the list it would cost you $72,000 this year.

Buying the 12 Days of Christmas for your true love will cost you 10 percent more this year. PNC Financial Services Group calculates that turtle doves and French hens were way up — mostly due to avian flu restricting shipments from France, and the high cost of fuel. Lords-a-leaping and ladies-dancing were a bargain: Few dancers got raises this year. Starting with a partridge in a pear tree, it all adds up to $72,000.

This is just for one complete set.  My husband insisted when he heard this story that you had to have 12 partridges in 12 pear trees, 22 turtle doves, 30 French hens, etc. since you repeat the entire song every day for the 12 days.  Don’t think I’m even getting one set this year!

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