Hark – are those angels I hear singing?
Tomorrow is December 1, which for most people marks the unofficial start of Christmas. It’s also the first day you get to pop open that shiny new advent calendar, which brings me to the theme of today’s post:
Before I show you this year’s advent calendar project, let me walk you through a brief history of my life in advent calendars.
The Early Years
I remember having at least a few Christmases with a regular chocolate advent calendar. I think my Nana Annaliese brought them over for us, but I’m not 100% sure that’s where it came from. Anyway, I loved it – alternating cardboardy chocolate days with my sister was the best. This was a tradition I could get behind.
The Curious Year
One year, when we were a little older (middle school maybe?), my mom did something really weird. She replaced the usual chocolate number with a new advent calendar.
Rather than hiding a piece of chocolate, each door hid… a Bible verse. In French.
But wait, it gets better. At the end of the advent period, you closed all the open doors so that next year, you could OPEN THEM AGAIN! So next year’s December 12 would yield the exact same biblical message as this year’s did.
Here’s why I wasn’t a fan:
- No chocolate. Enough said.
- The Bible verse thing was weird, mostly because my family was not religious. I went to Catholic school by default (at the time, it was the only option if you wanted to go to French school), so I got a healthy dose of the religious element there.
- It was French. Anyone attending French school knew that French was soooo lame. (note: I recognize now that being bilingual is awesome and I regret nothing – but at the time, like it or not, French was soooo lame).
- Although the reuse aspect of the calendar was notable environmentally conscious, it took away the element of surprise, which is even lamer than the French factor.
I’m still not completely sure where my mom acquired this unique calendar, but it never did make another appearance. I’m sure that somewhere, a lovely French Catholic eco-friendly family is eagerly counting down the hours until they get a peek at that first Bible verse tomorrow morning.
The College Years
Living halfway across the country from my family, I found myself responsible for buying my own advent calendar. It was very liberating to know that I could finally buy my own advent calendar, but I opted to share one with roommates. We did kick it up a notch by investing in a superior quality calendar – the $12 Lindt one.
I’m sure I did this every year, but one in particular stands out. My one roommate, Meghan, was just as fiendish about Christmas and chocolate as I was, so neither of us ever missed a day. I’m pretty sure our third roommate, Liis, was pretty on top of it, too. Our fourth roommate, Sarah, would regularly miss her designated days, which BOGGLED MY MIND. I never imagined the possibility of not scarfing down your advent chocolate the very second you woke up. Yes, college was a time of learning indeed.
The Puzzle that Puzzled Me
The year is 2011. It is mid-November. I receive a mysterious parcel in the mail. It is a sheet of chocolate with adorable drawings. It is in French (which, unlike the middle school years, I am now okay with). It is a puzzle made up of individual chocolate puzzle pieces.
My mom is clearly behind this, but the parcel is delivered straight from the chocolatier that made it, and there is no note or anything. I eat a few of the puzzle pieces – delicious. THIS is the good stuff.
On our weekly phone call later that week, my mom asks if I received the advent calendar yet. I replied that I had not. Confusion ensues – until I realize that the chocolate puzzle IS the advent calendar! My mom points out that each puzzle piece should have a number, which represents the day of the month. I run to check the remaining pieces – she is correct. Luckily, most of the pieces remained in tact. Christmas wasn’t ruined, but it almost was.
The Glory Years
My dad is in Vancouver attending a high school reunion, and he swings up to Whistler to spend a few days with me. He comes bearing a gift: an advent calendar like no other.
It’s 24 glorious days of sample-sized Benefit makeup – be still, my beating heart! Each day’s reward is better than the last. All my favourites are there. I’m able to try new products, too. Santa has really upped his game this year!
The next year, I scramble to get myself another Benefit advent calendar. I find it – but they have boosted the price to $120! I love Christmas, but that is insane, so I pass. They no longer make the full 24 day advent calendar, but they do have a 12 days of Christmas version, for those interested.
Luckily, L’occitane saves the day with this:
The advent calendar that promises to keep you clean until next Christmas. YES! There really IS a Santa!
The Glory Years introduced me to the concept that not all advent calendars are made of chocolate. Which brings us to the Modern Years.
The Modern Years
This year, I will celebrate the advent with a daily cup of festive tea, courtesy of my beloved David’s Tea. (It’s still in stock!)
But the Modern Years are no longer just about me. They’re about Cedric, too – and it shocked me to learn that advent calendars do not play a pivotal role in Cedric’s annual Christmas traditions.
I took it upon myself to change that.
Tea, makeup, and bath products don’t quite tickle Cedric’s fancy, so I had to get creative. These beer advent calendars caught my eye, but didn’t seem quite right. Then, I had an idea: I would make Cedric’s advent calendar myself, filled with all kinds of cool stuff: beer, his favourite treats (sour cream and onion Ruffles chips, I’m looking at you), ski socks, books, etc.
The quest for the perfect advent calendar container began. I found a few online, but they were outrageously expensive and the pockets were too small to fit the objects I had in mind. I then realized that the shoe holder hanging over my door conveniently housed 24 pockets. I could place the 25th item under the tree. Boom – advent calendar container found.
Here’s what last year’s calendar looked like:
Consider this the beta year – it had a few growing pains. First, the duct tape would peel off the canvas material, exposing the daily prize before its designated day. Second, it was very obvious which days were beer days.
This year’s advent calendar follows a similar format with one notable improvement: the paper bag.
Not bad, right?
Let the advent begin!