Tiny Doors of Mystery

A very old Advent calendar kept by my mom.  Isn't it wonderful?  There are angels...and also Santa inside, sitting at his desk, checking his list.  So fun!

A very old Advent calendar kept by my mom. Isn’t it wonderful? There are angels…and also Santa inside, sitting at his desk, checking his list. So fun!

“Guess what?” I said to Boo, age 5, in an attempt to distract her grumpy self from the fact that she HAD to finish her toast, brush her teeth, and get dressed because the daddy-school bus would be leaving in 7 minutes.

“What?” she asked, frowning as she struggled into her shirt.

“Saturday is the first day of Advent!” I said, mustering all the excitement I could into my tone as I shoved her legs into her pants.

Boo's Advent calendar from school.  Each day she gets to color in a "button".  It's awesome.

Boo’s Advent calendar from school. Each day she gets to color in a “button”. It’s awesome.

“What’s ‘Advent’?” she asked, a little curious despite her mood.

“It means that something important is coming,” I explained as I forced her feet into her shoes. “In this case, Christmas!”

“Advent calendars!” Boo exalted, remembering.

“Yep! Now stand up, let’s do your hair.”

Boo dutifully stood, and I looked at her feet.

I had put her shoes on the wrong feet. I had. Not her. me.

“Sit down,” I said, already ripping out the knots.

“I thought you were doing it wrong,” she said.

“Then why didn’t you say so?!” I asked a little crossly.

“I didn’t want to interrupt.”

As we somehow got her into the car along with her siblings, I wondered how on earth we’d be able to fit Advent calendar time into our morning routine. I mean, I might have to wake up a few minutes earlier in the mornings. Heaven forbid.

My Nativity drawing, circa 1975.  How fun is this?!

My Nativity drawing, circa 1975. How fun is this?!

But, the truth is, we love Advent calendars. Though, to be sure, our main one is rather non-traditional. A few years back I bought a felt banner of the Nativity scene – not just a picture, but rather many individual felt characters – wisemen, shepherds, Mary and Joseph, baby Jesus et al – and we began using that as our Advent calendar. I separated them out into little numbered bags, and each day they add to the scene, counting down to the day when the last image of all – Jesus – is placed into his manger.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, we have to keep careful track of who placed Jesus from year to year, otherwise it becomes a fight. Over baby Jesus. Not good.

Little by little, day by day, we count down to Christmas as we add to the picture.

Little by little, day by day, we count down to Christmas as we add to the picture.

This is what it looks like when it's finished!

This is what it looks like when it’s finished!

We love this “calendar” of ours…but we love the more conventional calendars with their tiny doors of mystery as well. I think it appeals to the love of all things miniature that is alive and well within me. Just as I loved my doll house as a child, I love the little numbered doors of the Advent calendars, the wee little pictures of jolly Christmas things hidden behind each opening.

Several years ago my kids made their own Advent calendars and I kept them – now rather ragged –because I couldn’t bear to part with them. My son actually spent quite a bit of his saved-up allowance money last year to buy a Lego Advent Calendar. It was pretty cool, though kind of humorous, too. As I said to him, “What says ‘Merry Christmas’ more than Darth Maul?”

My kid's homemade Advent calendars from several years ago...not very fancy, but they had fun!

My kid’s homemade Advent calendars from several years ago…not very fancy, but they had fun!

Last year we spent Christmas out in Washington State with my family. As we were unpacking parts of my sister’s German LGB train that runs around her Christmas tree, my mouth dropped open in surprise at something I found in the bottom of the box.

The box had come from our parent’s house and there, wrapped in tissue, was a picture I had drawn probably more than 35 years ago, and, along with it, two advent calendars that had been mine when I was a child.

Yes, I come by this love of Advent calendars honestly.

One of the old Advent calendars kept by my mom.

One of the old Advent calendars kept by my mom.

Today my aunt sent us an Advent calendar app for my computer. And, while it won’t ever be found, years from now, at the bottom of a box, it continues the tradition that my family loves: counting down the days to the celebration of Christ’s birth.

Thanks, Aunt Sandy! And Happy Counting to you all!

A couple "real" Advent calendars that I've kept over the years.

A couple “real” Advent calendars that I’ve kept over the years.

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