Can you imagine how many different traditions families have for Christmas? When do you put up your tree? Is it real or fake? When are the Santa letters written? Where do you post them? Where in the house does he leave the presents? Are they wrapped or unwrapped. So many different varieties of the same celebrations.
One of our traditions in this house is the advent calendar.
My eldest is twenty three and my youngest twelve, so as you can imagine we have been opening calendars for many years. December 1st was always greeted with great excitement. Christmas had officially begun. The countdown was started. It was now okay to speak about Santa, and to sing Christmas songs.
Our calender was a beautiful wooden one, in the shape of a house, with brightly coloured doors to be opened, each with a Christmas themed picture on it. However nice and pretty as it was, all my gang wanted was the mass produced ones which had a chocolate behind each door. At the time I had my four children, I minded two more girls, who were like family, and most days my friends four children were also over. To buy eight or ten of those calendars was a cost I was not willing to bear, so I came up with an alternative idea.
Every day I hid one jelly or small sweet behind the appropriate door. The kids took it in turns to be the one to open that door and take the sweet. For those who didn’t open a door I hid sweets around the kitchen. I would then call them all back in and gave each a clue as to where their sweet was hidden. There was great excitement as they ran around the kitchen trying to be ‘the winners’, and there was always much joking about the poor misfortune who just couldn’t crack the code.
I have spent the past many Decembers lamenting the time and effort that went into the hiding of the sweets and the clues, not to mention always having a bag of cheap sweets around. This year however that calendar is not in use. I must admit as each day passes and we do not have a big door opening ceremony I miss those days. Why you may ask do we not have it this year? Well to my horror of horrors my youngest has been given one of those much wished for chocolate hiding calendars. Rightly or wrongly I believe that without it we might have managed to put off the inevitable for one more year. Daily I am concocting different ways to ‘lose’ it. (So far I’m thinking of telling her the dog ate it, but it’s not exactly original is it?)
As the days pass and no one else seems to miss the old calendar and the fun, I am forced to face the truth. Christmas as I knew it is over. My little ones are little no more. It is time for a new beginning. Time to find a different variety of Christmas. They are moving on and I must follow.
I’m not sure this new variety of Christmas will ever be as good as the old one, but you never know. As my daughter happily opens a door of her commercial calendar and scoffs a chocolate every day, I think she would tell me that she is more than happy with this new variety.