How many of you remember having an Advent Calendar as a child? I remember it vividly. It was one of our traditions. It was alway a very elaborate Christmas, or at least winter, scene, all glittery with numbers that seemed near-impossible to find! Some years my sister and I took turns opening the little doors, other times we each had our own. Generally they were displayed on the piano, standing up like sheet music. I just love them. The nostaliga of enjoying the holiday through the eyes of a child once more.
This year I have not one, not two but three of them! My cup runneth over! My wonderful and sentimental sister sent me an e-advent calendar. Every day I click on a different ornament and since it's interactive it takes me to a new adventure. I could be decorating a wreath or learning a new recipe or watching a Christmas scene unfold or listening to a choir. It's adorable and charming and I love it.
Tim, knowing of my love of these calendars and not knowing what my sister had planned, sent away for two of them for me. I was absolutely delighted! I have them set up in the bookcases which flank the entry to the family room. Every day I open not one but two new doors that have little christmassy pictures inside. These two are slowly revealing the Clement Moore, Night Before Christmas story. I love both of these too!
Since this was such a happy memory for me, I tried to pass it along to the next generation. When the boys were young, I tried every year to find an advent calendar for them. All three had to share so it was with great ceremony that the child of the day would look for his numbered door with his brothers crowding around rather impatiently "helping" him look, with me shushing their assitance. It was chaos but of a wonderful type. Once the door was open revealing the picture, they would all, in turn, admire it before blasting forward into the next adventure of their day. It helped them to understand the passage of time between this moment and the far distant all important Christmas Day. Between the advent calendars and the Christmas activity books (which were ESSENTIAL) all that little boy Christmas excitement was slightly more in control.
Because I'm a curious sort, I was wondering where this wonderful idea came from. So I did some reading. It began in the early 19th century in Protestant Germany as a way to marking the days between Advent and Christmas Day. Originally it was a chalk mark on each family's front door. Gradually it morphed into such things a candle wreaths,where the family would light a candle every day to mark passage of time. Then handmade calendars of every clever sort were made by each family. Since that's where the printing press was invented, thank you Mr. Guttenburg, eventually they became mass produced paper calendars similar to what most of us saw when we were young. Each little door might reveal a bible verse or a Christmas or winter picture. Some had hard candies attached, one for each day.
In the 1940's the idea jumped the pond to America. In the 50's someone came up with the idea of having a chocolate behind each door (YUM!) And now there are advent calendars of every imaging, including as interactive electronic cards. And I adore them all.
If you are among the unfortunate souls who have never had this experience, give it a try, for yourselves, your children or your grandkids. It is one of my favourite of all the Christmas traditions even though it's rather low-key and inexpensive. It's a sort of slow down and step back a minute kind of experience. And, especially this time of year, who couldn't use a little bit of that.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.