A Baker’s Dozen

A Bakers’ Dozen

Christmas One


I once was locked out of my car and so I called a locksmith.  I had not locked my keys inside the care; rather, the key broke off in the lock on the car door.  In looking up the telephone number I noticed an interesting line in the advertisement:  “Open 23 hours every day.”  After the owner’s son had retrieved the broken key and made us a new one, he explained the slogan.  Originally ir had read “Open 24 hours every day” but then came a fateful night.  A woman called while his father was taking a shower and he did not answer the call at first.  Ten minutes later the telephone rang again and he did answer, only to be chastised by the woman on the other end.  She felt his advertisement was false since he had not been available every minute of the twenty-four hours.


Great Britain has had a long history of regulation of trade.  Bakers were regulated by a trade guild called The Worshipful Company of Bakers, which dates back to at least the reign of Henry II (1154-89). The law that caused bakers to be so wary was the Assize of Bread and Ale. In 1266, Henry III revived an ancient statute that regulated the price of bread according to the price of wheat. Bakers or brewers who gave short measure could be fined, pilloried or flogged, as in 1477 when the Chronicle of London reported that a baker called John Mund[e]w was ‘schryved [forced to admit his guilt] upon the pyllory’ for selling bread that was underweight.  Thus they would add an extra loaf to an order so as to avoid being found guilty of short-changing a customer.  The term “baker’s dozen” came to signify that extra loaf and a “baker’s dozen was not twelve loaves but rather thirteen.


We are now in a season of Christmas, most noticeably known not only for the religious aspect but also for the secular song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  The true December dilemma for many, though, is that the time between Christmas and Epiphany is not twelve days but thirteen.  Many believe counting the days should commence on December 26th while others consider December 25th the first day. As with so many things in life, it becomes a matter of perspective and what the song and gifts might really signify.


Mary Wolfinbarger, a marketing professor at California State University at Long Beach delved into the meaning of gifts for her doctorate.  She noted that while people are not that sensitive as to which gift they receive, there are some rules we should consider when selecting a gift.  “The basic violation is simply not trying… from wanting to put your stamp on it as a giver.”


During this Christmas series we will look at the twelve days of Christmas, the gifts attached to each day but more importantly, the gifts we share with each other.  Giving a gift is an opportunity to connect with another person, whether that gift was monetarily expensive or consisted of sharing a part of yourself.  We all have hidden talents and things that will enhance the life of another person.  It truly is not about how much we give but how much love, how much extra measure like the baker’s dozen, we put into the giving. 



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