It has begun. The long-awaited countdown to Christmas, Yule, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or whatever holiday you honor at this time of year. We are a secular household but still love a few time-honored traditions. One of them for me is the advent calendar. Its origins can be traced back to 19th century Germany, although my first run-in with one happened in the late 1970’s. A pair of sisters that my friends and I were friends with got them every year from their father who lived in upstate New York. Living in the South, I don’t remember ever seeing such things and they seemed incredibly exotic to my sister and I. These were the days before the internet so it wasn’t like our parents could have just googled “chocolate advent calendar” and come up with a bazillion places to order these delectable works of art. With my eyes glowing with jealousy, I would stare at my friend as she oh so carefully pried open the door on her calendar each day and waited to see what Christmasey image was molded onto the tiny chocolate inside the window. It left such an impression on me! It’s funny because as children, my sister and I didn’t want for much. Our parents spoiled us fairly well but this one thing eluded me every year until I was too old to receive one. Then, I had children of my own and came across a calendar at the grocery store one day. And a new tradition was born.
Every day the boys get up and eagerly look for the day’s date on the calendar, nearly ripping the little tab off of it in their zeal to get to the chocolate waiting for them inside. It brings me such joy to see them heads together, trying to help one another find the right flap to open, and then reveling in the sweet taste of Christmas that they find each day. While I still would love an advent calendar of my own one year, I am incredibly content to see them enjoying this simple thing and hope that it is a memory that they, too, will cherish when they have long since left home. Perhaps they will provide them for their children as well and who knows? Maybe they’ll even get one for dear old mom. 🙂