Monday, November 26, 2012

The 24-Day Mystery

Never once did our Advent calendar hold candy, or chocolates, or even small toys, or stickers. Nope. Always there was just a picture inside that little paper door. The picture might be of a hobby horse, spinning top or stocking if we had gotten the calendar from our secular grandparents,  or an image with a more "reason for the season" message if we had gotten it from the other side of the family. Either way, it should not have been all that exciting. And yet, somehow it was. Somehow, wrestling with the perforated edges of those tiny flaps became as exciting as any other holiday treat and, like other holiday treats, caused much bickering among the sisters Sassano.

Whose turn was it to open the door tonight? Who was going to get to open the "BIG" door on the 24th? Gathered around the tiny fingers of one sister prying up the paper flap, the other sisters were crowded around, impinging on her space and pressing their faces in close so they could be the first ones to see the blot of color behind it. We always started off the month of December with excellent rigor and discipline, but I fear we left many an Advent calendar opened through the twelfth or so and abandoned.

I even remember a year or two when we recycled a calendar for the next year's season. Opening the calendar loses all its luster when the perforation has already been ripped through and the doors are popping open willy nilly as the calendar is twisted in little hands. Pop. Pop. Pop. Go to open one door and three dislodge themselves and fling wide revealing their secrets. The mystery is gone. The secrets, last year's secrets, no longer interesting.

We are about to relive the tradition here in the Gill household. I wonder how the Advent calendar will compare to the electronic devices and Netflix shows. Is there still appeal in a mystery image behind a thin cardboard door? I am hoping there's enough to interest us, but not so much as to incite fighting. That would be a lovely Advent gift.

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