The Advent Calendar


I have a need to mark time. I need to see tangible points that mark
the passage of time so that I don’t feel I have wasted my life. I
don’t waste my days during Christmas, I mark time with an Advent

The Advent Calendar does not follow the Christian season of Advent
exactly. Advent begins the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas where any
Advent Calendar I’ve ever seen begins the First and ends the 25th of
December. Most Advent calendars are just two pieces of heavy paper
place on top of each other. The top piece will have little pre-cut
doors to pull open with each passing day of December. The front piece
of paper usually is adorned with a scene from either the birth of
Jesus or something more secular. As it is in most cases, the reward
is not the door but rather what lies behind it.

I still have anticipation when I open each Advent Calendar door.
Some Advent Calendars are made of wood with substantial doors that
cover pockets large enough to store a small gift. Prior to its
opening the door, I can hope for anything. In one situation I could
find a stale piece of chocolate while another may find a verse that
gives the Holiday needed perspective.

We never had Advent Calendars around the house until recently. Lisa
and I both had them as kids but only recently did they appear on the
refrigerator. I wanted one for some time but wanted to build a rather
intricate and ornate version which always seemed beyond my skills. I
think there is a lesson in this experience. I alone separated myself
from the joy of an Advent Calendar through my own insistence of
adding complications. It is like this for many at Christmas time who
seem hijack what is a fairly simply birthday celebration and instead
create a multi-layered bacchanalia so complicated that there is no
time for quiet reflection on the meaning of Christmas. When there is
no meaning then the complicated traditions become the reason for the
holiday and these traditions alone are unfulfilling. They are like
eating cake only with no protein and complex carbohydrates to back
the sugar rush.

Okay, here is where the Advent Calendar really goes to work. While
some calendars hold only candy behind each door, others tell the true
story of Christmas. This is not the story of old Saint Nick on the
rooftop but rather the birth of Jesus Christ, you know- the story you
hear each year on the Charlie Brown Christmas special and read so
well by Sally’s boyfriend Linus. Any child’s birth holds the interest
of family and friends but this birth includes all mankind. It is a
story that provides drama, anticipation and draws you into a
Christmas that doesn’t depend on lay-away. Just as sure as Jesus was
born to save mankind, the story of Christmas will save you from a
hollowed-out holiday of no substance. The story is never told in a
more compelling fashion than in the piecemeal manner of the Advent
calendar. I highly suggest you find one.

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