This one has bugged me for a long time, and it;s appropriate for the season.

Did His/her True Love just get one Partridge in a Pear Tree every single one of the Twelve Days of Christmas, or did they just get one the first day, and they just sang about it for twelve days? (They would’ve gotten 22 turtledoves, 30 French Hens, 36 Calling Birds, etc. Or, the other way, only 2, 3, and 4. Either way, it’s a lot of birds. It sounds like the kind of giving you’d do for someone who was really your True Hate.)

On the second day, two turtle doves *and *one partridge in one pear tree.

Etc.

My mother actually uses this as a busywork assignment for her sixth graders: how many gifts all together. The dumb ones start adding 1+1+2+1+2+3… the smart ones go (112) + (211) + (3*10)…

The really obnoxious ones, like me, add on another 12 for the trees and 40 for the cows that come with the maids-a-milking.

I tend to interpret it the first way, i.e.:
On the second day of Christmas, my true love sent to me: Two turtle doves and [I still also have] a partridge in a pear tree…

Maybe there were no cows; maybe the maids were just lactating.

In any case, I can see both interpretations, but I prefer to think that she got only one partridge + tree, two doves, three hens, etc, altogether. One kind of gift each day.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree. She quite obviously got 12 partridges, 22 doves, 30 French hens, and so forth.

The really smart ones do half the calculations and double the result, realizing that after you get halfway through it starts duplicating (1x12 is the same as 12x1, 2x11 is the same as 11x2, and so forth).