Two Turtle Doves

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 8 - Two Turtle Doves - Doodlewash

One of the most played songs around this time of year is the 12 Days of Christmas. It’s often sung by adults and children and its repetitive words and melody make it rather catchy and easy to sing. That said, the only confusing part comes when one tries to imagine actually getting all of the gifts described. As we sing the song, our true love spends the first eight days giving us a wide variety of live birds. This onslaught of birds only pauses for a moment on Day 5 when our lover surprises us with five golden rings, one for each finger of our favorite hand. On Day 8-12, however, things take a perfectly bizarre turn, as having run out of birds, our true love loses it entirely and starts gifting actual people. Though birds can be seen as pets, one doesn’t expect to receive dancing ladies unless drunk in a bar on a 21st birthday. So clearly, our companion is a bit crazy, confirmed by the act of then forgetting each day that we’ve already received those lovely, odd, and somewhat inappropriate gifts and giving them to us over and over again.

This little song has always intrigued me and even as a kid I tried to understand what the heck was going on. Though at first it seems we’re getting only two turtle doves, by the end of the song, we’ve actually received a ridiculous 22 doves. In truth, as our amnesiac continues to bestow the same gifts on us day after day, we end up with 184 birds and can only wonder why an aviary wasn’t even considered in the list of thoughtful gifts. On the bright side, we did get 40 gold rings that I’m sure might provide enough funds, if sold, to purchase one. But that won’t at all help us in housing the 140 maids, dancers, leaping lords, pipers, and drummers. Though, blissfully, our true love thought about the drummers at the last moment so there are only 12, which probably won’t even make enough noise to drown out the birds and pipers. One can only imagine that this song is indeed about true love and that, in the end, it’s often only the thought that counts.

But as bizarre as this little diddy is if you stop to question it realistically, it doesn’t stop me from joining in the chorus each year. I’ll happily hop in with others, singing without care, as we receive a ridiculous menagerie of inexplicable gifts and enjoy each and every one. What I love about this season is that it’s rich with traditions that don’t always make perfect sense. Songs and stories that are enjoyed over and over again with glee, never stopping to question why. It’s a magical time of doing things that generations before us did as well. In this way, we’re all reconnected to our wonderful present life and a life long before us filled with equal bits of good cheer. That, to me, is the greatest gift of the year. It’s one you don’t open with your hands, but simply with your heart. A moment of love, hope and joy that can start with something as oddly simple as two turtle doves.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Red Rose Deep, Terra Cotta, Leaf Green, Cobalt Blue and Payne’s Gray.  Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
#WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 8 - Two Turtle Doves - Doodlewash
Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

34 Comments
  1. Sharon Nolfi 10 months ago

    LOL. You’ve just given me a totally new perspective on this song! I never considered the incredible, and some might say, weird, generosity of the gift giver. Lovely painting of the doves!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      Hehe! Thanks so much, Sharon! Glad you liked this one! 😃💕

  2. Mary Roff 10 months ago

    Beautiful doves!

  3. Sandra Strait 10 months ago

    I love your doves with the subtle color along the head and neck. As for the song – I think it’s obvious. The gifter was sold on the idea by the first marketer to come up with the phrase – ‘the gift for the person who has everything’. You inundate them with more of the same, lol.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      Thanks, Sandra! 😃💕 Lol… yeah, one has to assume the recipient already had foxes and hounds, so I guess those gifts were the only thing left!

  4. Sharon Nolfi 10 months ago

    I’m just thinking through the song and am wondering whether the maids-a-milking include the cows. What do you think?

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      Interesting… LOL… one has to hope, which brings the animal count up a bit more. If there were no cows, the image gets perfectly bizarre. 😳

  5. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 10 months ago

    You’ve made me laugh out loud, Charlie. I can’t even count as high as the number you’ve suggested. Lucky for me, there are only a few birds to contend with and the drummers have scared them all away. I’m left with five golden rings and some worn out dancing shoes.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      hehe! Thanks, Sharon!! 😃💕 lol… yeah, it’s a crazy song, isn’t it?

  6. Pamela Smith 10 months ago

    Wow,I will think of this song very differently from now on..nice doves..

  7. June Hadaway 10 months ago

    Such pretty doves and a really funny story. Sure brought a smile.

  8. Hania 10 months ago

    Too droll !

  9. Kaye Boggs 10 months ago

    don’t forget all those partridges in the pear trees. What a mess those birds will make.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      Yeah, the mess has be truly amazing in the end! And not easy gifts to return. 😳

  10. anamika808creative 10 months ago

    Oh God! It just rules…amazing work:)

  11. Thomas Blanchard 10 months ago

    I love your turtle doves Charlie! Thanks for the gift calculations 🙂 I’ve never thought that deeply about it before. Enjoy the weekend! I predict a holiday explosion is getting ready to hit your place!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      Thanks so much, Tom! 😃💕 hehe… yeah, best not overthink Christmas songs. They’re all pretty weird! lol And yep… the holiday explosion has begun today!

  12. Ellie 10 months ago

    Wonderful painting of the turtle doves! Such great detail. And thanks for hilarious recounting of the song – how could I never had realized that it was all birds at first and then things exploded into gifting of people doing things? Thanks!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      Thanks so much, Ellie! 😃💕 hehe… yeah, Christmas songs make me giggle. They’re all pretty funny when you look at them rationally. Best not to, I’ve found. lol

  13. Jacob 10 months ago

    Lovely turtle doves! And hilarious. I’ve always found this song curious, too, but not enough to stop enjoying it of course. I remember the total is 364 gifts, so one for every day of the year… apart from Christmas Day! 😛

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      hehe! Thanks, Jacob! 😃💕 Yeah, it really does add up to a gift for every day, except the one that counts! lol Which, to me, makes it even funnier!

  14. Susan Cuss 10 months ago

    Lovely doves Charlie!

  15. Jennifer McLean 10 months ago

    That was hilarious. I’ve never added it all up, what a strange collection of birds and people. You WOULD need a whole castle and aviary just to keep it all! Just think of the Food bill!!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      haha! I know, right?? Totally crazy in the end! That true love was whack! lol

  16. memadtwo 10 months ago

    Perfect Charlie. I always wondered about that menagerie of gifts myself…(K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      Thanks so much, Kerfe! 😃💕Yeah… it’s an odd yet wonderful series of gestures! hehe

  17. Sandra Gilbert 10 months ago

    Oh my! I have sang that song my whole life and never stopped and thought about the lyrics, that is too funny.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 10 months ago

      lol… yeah, now you’ll have a new appreciation for just what what that poor recipient of the true love endured! 😉

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