Dear Dave

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Advent calendars

Dear Dave,

Gah! It's almost Christmas again already. I'm not sure where the time has vanished to this year. It's disappearance has been all the more galling, however, because I don't have the excuse of sleepless nights and clingy small children. I've had more time available to me than at any point in the last decade and yet I'm still confused the summer has already been and gone. What happened to the long days of sunshine? The strawberries and tennis? The sweet smell of newly-mown grass? The happy sound of children locked outside the back door and forced to play in the fresh air while I have a rest?

Ho well. There's always mince pies and mulled wine to look forward to, I suppose...

I've started work on what to include in our Christmas letter this year and we've decorated the lounge in a confusion of tinsel but I'm not entirely prepared for the deluge of carols, cards and calories that's on its way. The kids, on the other hand, have already begun on the festivities. Thanks to their advent calendars, they're getting a daily dose of chocolate at breakfast.

It's maybe a sign of the end of civilisation that they see this as only natural.

When I was their age, I remember being excited at the prospect of opening a tiny cardboard door each morning of December to find out whether there was a little picture of a robin or a snowman behind it. This simple surprise brought a little colour to my life in between cleaning chimneys and playing with my single toy (a loaf of stale Hovis). That said, I was immensely jealous of a friend who had an advent calendar with chocolate in it. The pictures were on the front of the doors, which was a little odd, and the compartments didn't entirely line up with the openings, so getting the treats out was a battle but, nonetheless, it was an object of wonder, surrounded by warmth and light in my hazy recollections. Truly, it was amazing...

These days, it's tricky finding an advent calendar without chocolate in it. You probably have to go to a Christian bookshop. I'm also pretty certain that's the only way to avoid something that isn't merchandising for Ben 10 or Barbie. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if a plain card one is more expensive than a chocolate one. The things are scarily cheap. We've got a fabric calendar with numbered pockets to put sweets in. Filling it up cost more than it would have done to buy a job lot of three pre-filled calendars from the local supermarket.

That's not taking into account the fact that the packaged ones have extra doors. When I was young, advent calendars stopped on the 24th. Admittedly, this seemed miserly even then - it might be traditional but it felt a day early to my six-year-old mind. Not to mention that there was never any mystery over what the final picture was going to be. (Double-sized nativity scene? Boring...) Nowadays, advent calendars often keep on going right up to New Year. I'm beginning to long for nativity scenes rather than Scooby-Doo in a Santa hat.

Bah, humbug. Something isn't right. Mutter. Grumble. The kids of today don't know they're born. Etc. Etc.

Hmm... I think I need to go have some chocolate for breakfast...

Yours in a woman's world,


PS Once again, this was finally going to be the week. The week where I had all the kids at school every day and nothing to distract me - no holidays, illnesses, school trips, visiting relatives, cleaning or anything else.

Unfortunately, I walked them along the road this morning only to discover the heating was broken and school was cancelled. I was back home playing Mouse Trap by five past nine.

Definitely need that chocolate now...

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