The rules are as follows:
1. The challenge begins at 12:01am local time on the day after Thanksgiving – this year that's today, November 27th. It ends at 12:01am local time on December 24th.
2. If you hear even a tiny snatch of TLDB at any time during that period, if it's recognizable as such, the game's over until next year. Thanks for playing.
3. There are two exceptions to Rule #2.
3a. The first exception is that if someone deliberately plays TLDB just to make you lose, it doesn't count (this, I'm sorry to say, is known as the My Sister Jane Exception).4. Since the date of Thanksgiving floats, scoring is based on how many days remain until Christmas, not how many days have passed since Thanksgiving. So, e.g., December 15th from any year always beats December 14th from any year. That's based on a 2013 ruling by the Commissioner.
3b. The second exception is that the early 1970s cover of TLDB by Bing Crosby and David Bowie doesn't end the game. I treasure it for its transcendental weirdness.
Odds favor those who do not work in retail, and who do not drive around in cars with satellite radio tuned to all-Christmas channels.
Two years ago, I made it until 11:52am on December 20th, which was my best showing in several years. I had my worst recent season in 2012, when I went out at 8:32pm on November 27th. In 2008 I actually got nailed on Black Friday. Depressing. Last year I made it until 2:01 pm on December 15th, which is not bad, but not great.
The precise origins of The Annual "The Little Drummer Boy" Competition are shrouded in antiquity, but many reputable historians of the sport believe it traces to this moment on December 18, 1963.
You can read more about my war with "The Little Drummer Boy." and relive highlights from previous seasons, here.
May the odds be ever with you.
Update: Three friends, among the founding ALDB competitors, all got taken out in one fell swoop tonight at 8:37pm local while walking to meet step counter goals at a big box store in central Indiana. That's just wrong. The rest of us must carry on in their honor.