The Twelve Hills of Christmas

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uphillGina Simpson submitted this winning entry about a holiday feat of athleticism. I know you will enjoy reading about her family’s tradition, which is a new twist on the twelve days of Christmas.

The Twelve Hills of Christmas
To say I come from an athletic family may be an understatement. I’m the oldest of three and my younger sister is a physical therapist who runs marathons, my little brother is professional golfer, my sister-in law was a collegiate gymnast, and my parents’ vacations include biking hundreds of miles around various states. With three kids I have only gotten back to the gym in the last three years since my youngest was born and I am slowly working back up to being in shape. All the background leads up to one of our family Christmas traditions: the twelve hills of Christmas.
My husband, kids, and I always spend part of the Christmas holiday at my parents’ house and once my sister and brother and his wife get there it is time for the adults to don their running shoes and head out to “the hill.” The stretch of road that runs next to my grandfather’s house and is probably close to 100 yards long and very steep so of course who wouldn’t want to run up it? So the tradition goes that we start at the bottom and run up the hill and once at the top we walk backwards (apparently you activate different muscles walking backwards downhill) down the hill while singing the 12 days of Christmas song. Picture this: my mother, my sister, my sister-in law, my husband and myself (hmm come to think of it my father always volunteers to watch the kids, but only for this part of the day) all running up this hill as quickly as we can and once we reach the top and are all out of breath we attempt to sing, “on the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.” It is a pretty tiring but fun time as we strive to make it up the hill, but also hilarious as we try to figure out exactly what happened on each day of Christmas and some of us go the traditional melody while others go the Muppets Christmas version and we slowly catch our breath. After the twelfth hill is run and the final verse is sung someone (I suspect my sister, but it could equally have been my brother) decided a few years ago that we need to run up a thirteenth time to ring in the New Year. While we’re opening presents later that day we are all also secretly stretching our hamstrings and calves as we bend over to retrieve the next present from under the tree.

The morals of the story are:

  • You can’t run 13 hills once a year and expect to be able to keep up with those who exercise year round. (Acts 17:11)
  • The more we train the easier it is to get up the hill. (1 Tim 4:7)
  • The reward and feeling of accomplishment at the end is worth all the pain and it is easier to go through it together. (Heb 12:1-2, 2 Tim 4:7-8)
  • We should really learn the words (and probably the tune) before we sing Twelve Days of Christmas. (1 Cor 14:15)
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