I love holidays. And thinking back to my childhood (from which all issues stem, good or bad), I realize that my mom instilled a special love for Christmas through tradition. We had a number of them. As soon as the Thanksgiving turkey was stripped like a downed antelope by a pride of lions, Mom cued Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” on the record player as we decorated the tree. We placed the creepy “vertically challenged” stuffed Santa in his inaugural spot by the fire and prayed that he wouldn’t come to life and skin the cat, and Mom gifted both my sister and I with Advent calendars that must’ve set her back 25 cents.
They were the worst Advent calendars known to man. You know the kind; the 11x13 paper ones with tiny little doors that you had to pry open with your stubby, bitten-down nails. When you finally earned a 1x1 cm candy, it was a waxy little square that the candy company took the time to emboss with an image of an angel or a bell to hide the fact that it tasted like an unscented candle. A number of the doors would yield no chocolate at all because the thin pieces had fallen to the bottom during packaging.
All the same, I loved those Advent calendars. Not for what they were (sub-par chocolate), but for what they represented (an over-the-top present extravaganza, conventionally known as Christmas).
It also meant chocolate for breakfast, which I’ve come to see as a damn good privilege.
This year, my mom introduced my daughter to the Advent calendar on steroids. She quilted this beautiful hanging piece with 24 individual pockets in which she inserted tiny gifts. Mom went out and bought two-dozen trinkets to wrap.
Each morning Ava races to her calendar. This sends me into a state of panic. Day 14?! I only have ten days to finish my Christmas shopping! Day 10, the cards will barely make it out! Day 5, I might as well give up and send New Year’s cards, which every mom secretly knows is code for “fail.”
So while Ava stuffs her face with Belgian chocolate (not fair!), I’m breaking out in holiday hives.
But Christmas is supposed to be about the children, right? And I have to admit that I’ve never seen my daughter so eager to greet the day until she was introduced to the Advent calendar. So I’m thinking that after Christmas I may continue the tradition. I’m going to develop an “everyday Advent” to countdown the days to the most mundane tasks, like a trip to the dentist. I’ll stuff the calendar with general household paraphernalia, such as fluoride rinse, nickels and reduced-fat Wheat Thins. She’ll be excited and I’ll know exactly how many days I have left before I have to force her to floss.
Maybe these traditions shouldn’t be reserved for just the Christmas season. Maybe we should bake cookies year round, send cards just ‘cause and wish people happiness not because it’s the season for it, but because there’s a reason for it: rather than mourning the loss of time, we’re enjoying the gifts of every passing day.