Local authors pen guide for the 12 days of Christmas

John Link and Jo Lee Loveland Link, of Star Tannery, are the co authors of "Return of the Three Kings, " a guide to celebrating the 12 days from Christmas to Epiphany. Courtesy Photo

If the holiday hustle and bustle has you feeling stressed, you’re not alone.

Jo Lee Loveland Link recounted the mounting pressure she and her husband, John W. Link, felt one year as they found themselves working up to Christmas day, while frantically trying to shop amidst the holiday rush.

Then as Dec. 25 came and went, she said, “Poof, it was all over.”

“We weren’t happy with it,” she said. “It didn’t feel like Christmas to us at all.”

That was nearly two decades ago.

Today, the Star Tannery couple celebrate Christmas in a quieter and less commercial way, they said, by observing it over the 12 days following Christmas Eve, from Dec. 25 to Jan. 6.

Last December, they published a guide to their tradition, “Return of the Three Kings: Reclaiming the 12 Days from Christmas to Epiphany.”

The book is divided into sections sharing the history of Christmas and Epiphany, the meaning behind the holidays and a guide for readers on how to plan their own 12 Days of Christmas.

“What’s interesting is, right now the commercial industry is trying to hijack the ’12 Days of Christmas’ [idea] and use it as a countdown to Christmas day,” John Link said, “rather than the historical use, which was the time of Christmas to Epiphany.”

He said they celebrate by giving and receiving one gift on each of the 12 days, along with storytelling and religious readings.

“If you think about Christmas as trying to meet a deadline, it’s project management,” he said. “This gives everyone time to let Christmas unfold.”

Although the “war on Christmas” has garnered media waves in recent years, the concept has been around long before Bill O’Reilly.

Jo Lee Link said part of their inspiration came from Dr. Seuss, who wrote “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”

“We understand he was very fed up with the materialism of Christmas,” she said. “He got so fed up with it, he was being called ‘the grinch’ around Christmas.”

She added that Unitarians, Catholics and less formal Protestant denominations practiced hanging up stockings and decorations and giving presents to one another, while the Puritans were “up in arms around this” and chose to commemorate Christmas only through church services.

In the 19th century, Henry David Thoreau wrote about the difference between his cheery and joyful celebrations of Christmas and his neighbors’ more somber and sober observances.

The Links, who work as contractors in business and government, said they’ve been celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas as outlined in their book for more than 10 years.

“When we describe the process in our book to people, they get this light in their eyes that there’s a whole ‘nother way to do this,” Jo Lee Link said. “We feel like we’re actually getting away with something.”

“And the dirty secret is,” her husband joked, “you get to take advantage of all the deals.”

John and Jo Lee Link will be at the Winchester Book Gallery for a book signing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 20.

“Return of the Three Kings: Reclaiming the 12 Days from Christmas to Epiphany” is available for purchase at Amazon.com. It retails for $14.95.

John Link said about 100 copies of the book have been sold since it was published last December.

“If you really like Christmas,” he said, “this is something you’ll love.”

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com