Monday, December 02, 2002

Every year, the first of December would roll around and the kids in my family would get an Advent Calendar.

Advent Calendars, of course, are little scenes of serenely happy German or Dutch people having Christmas celebrations. Also, glitter is involved.

Little doors are cunningly hidden in the scene with a number that corresponds to the date. You open the little door for, say, December 2nd, and you sigh appreciatively: "Ah! A smiling hedgehog."

Or maybe you'll say "Oh! A small whellbarrow filled with some orange things that could possibly be gourds."

The pictures were always the same. And I mean always. You'd have candles. Nutcrackers. Candy canes. Sailboats. They loved the sailboats. Sometimes a rocking horse. You could pretty much count on these things showing up in your calendar. I mean, if you hadn't gotten a candle yet, and it was getting towards the 20th, you had a candle in your near future.

And there's not a whole lot of suspense about the picture you'll get on the 24th: it'll be Baby Jesus. That's just fine. Not terribly fulfilling for a young agnostic like myself, but there you go.

So as the years went on, the arrival of the advent calendars would be met with less and less excitement, and eventually with bitterness. Who wants to see the same pictures, year after year*?

Of course, there is another variety of Advent Calendar, in whcih you trade the excitement of smiling woodland creatures for chocolates with pictures of smiling woodland creatures on them. True, it's not the best quality chocolate. It's kind of like eating a small brown crayon every day in December, a practice which I cannot with a clear conscience recommend.

My wife swears by the chocolate calendars but, being German, she is helpless to defend herself against the cocoa bean in all of its manifold guises.

*Besides the American movie-going public, that is.**

**I know, that was pathetic.


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