I want to make clear at the outset that I consider this season to be, if you like, a broad church. Plenty of religious and secular versions of a Long Night celebration coexist more or less grudgingly, with some occasionally complaining about their congregation being stolen by others: the predominant Christian festival; Hannukah; Yule; Thanksgiving; the Victorian-invented British Christmas. I’m happy to make room for all traditions at Christmas, as long as there’s room for mine too. Such is the doctrine of what hatmandu termed a “simpering Chrimbonut.”
Since we stopped having enough time in the horror that is November to make our own advent calendar, K. and I have been buying whatever non-chocolate one we can find. This works out less fun all round, but so far this year’s offering has been the most depressingly earnest. Our ostensibly secular Fairtrade calendar turned out to be a CAFOD one.
I’ve no particular objection to a bit of the Christian myth in an advent calendar, of course; but if it gets to day eight and it’s still talking about the Roman census then it starts to become a chore to open each new door. I’d rather have a bauble than another cartoony version of Joseph. As I said at the outset, the more religious calendars are welcome to exist; I just wish they’d make it clearer that they weren’t going to hit the teddy bears by day five, so they wouldn’t exist at the bottom of our stairs.
It got to the point where we’d stopped opening the doors, which seemed like a shame and a waste of an otherwise structurally good calendar. So I’ve spent this weekend turning it into something entirely different, in order to make it more festive as I understand the festivities. Well, sort of. All I had available was Heat magazine. But long-term bedsters might remember that Christmas 2005 provides ample precedent for an entirely pop-culture advent.
Ideally they’d sell blank calendars so that you could do this from the start, but I nonetheless managed to separate the front and back of the calendar, messily in places but otherwise intact, and insert my own Christmas messages, both pictures and inspirational text. I’ll share the results here, day by day until Christmas itself. As we’re over half way through advent then I’ll have to start doing two days per day to be done by the 25th. But stick with it: it’ll be worth it.