The advent of Advent
When I was very little, the average Australian didn’t have an advent calendar. But when I was five, a German friend gave us hers and we used it every December for the next ten years. It was the kind that you stuck up on the window and opened a little door every day to see a new picture and that was enough in the sixties.
Then Australia got richer and we moved on to chocolate advent calendars but I don’t think that was progress:
- Australian children usually get too much sugar without starting the morning with a chunk of chocolate
- It often wasn’t very good chocolate
- Even though the shapes were different, it still felt like getting the same thing each day
Then we moved up another notch and advent calendars became drawers or pouches filled with toys and:
- Australian children usually get too many toys without getting an extra one every day of December
- They often aren’t very good toys
But why not wind the clock back to the days of little cardboard doors with festive pictures behind them and why not get your kids to make their own? If they do them now, they’ll have forgotten most of the drawings by December so the surprises will still pack some punch.
If twenty-four small pictures are too much to do in one hit, you can do it over several rainy afternoons. Or save suitable bits of their art work through the year and build the advent calendar from those.
My friend Carol rang me after tea. She said she’d researched some of my books and thought there were a few I could get fifty dollars for.
“They’re worth fifty dollars because they’re good editions of good books, which is why I like them and want to keep them,” I explained. This did not mollify her.
 And it had glitter on it which was a big deal back then.
 You’d be better off taking a lucky dip into a box of chocolates because at least you’d have the thrill of risking an insipid orange fondant for the chance of a potent rum truffle.
 Although I have to admit that I bought a Lego advent calendar for my kids one year and it was a lot of fun: you got a few blocks each day that you could turn into a little reindeer or a rudimentary Santa and they all added up to make a big thing on the 24th. And when my niece Emma was in high school, she had an advent calendar that provided a bottle of nail polish every day which tickled her pink (and tickled her nails pink, rose and violet).