A Realistic Advent Calendar
Tomorrow is the first of December, which means today is the perfect day for good parents to fire up Pinterest and check out some of the inspiring things other good parents are doing with advent calendars. Because you’ll realise, your children only just having come down from the sugar high of Halloween, that those Cadbury ones from the supermarket are not really good enough anymore.
All over Pinterest, parents are tucking little messages of hope and goodwill into tiny handmade brown paper envelopes, and numbering them in their best hipster font handwriting. They’re pegging these with tiny little natural wooden pegs to a grosgrain ribbon, or a little pine sapling they’ve raised from seed. Then they’re photographing the living daylights out of it and putting it all over the internet to make everyone else feel bad.
If you make one of these advent calendars, every day until Christmas your children will get to experience the wonder of the festive season. One day they’ll receive a pair of new Christmas pyjamas, or a judgemental spying elf. On other days they will dance to Christmas music, make marshmallow snowmen, bake Christmas cookies or dip candy canes in hot cocoa. Importantly, they will do a bit of unto othersing, perhaps donating toys to the less fortunate or singing carols for the neighbours.
The rest of you might like to borrow from the advent calendar I’ve made for my kids this year.
December 1. Put up the Christmas tree! Daddy will crawl under the house to look for the plastic tree in two parts. We’ll probably only find half of it. Some wasps will come inside too.
December 2. Write a letter to Santa Claus! Marvel at how small a piece of paper I give you to write on. This is called managing your expectations. No pictographs permitted. If you can’t write it, you can’t have it.
December 3. Special Christmas-themed dinner! Spaghetti bolognese, which is red, with basil, which is green, sprinkled on the top. I will pick off the basil for you, because I love you and it is nearly Christmas. A dusting of parmesan cheese to represent snow.
December 4. Christmas brainstorming session! What present do we all think your granddad would like? Not a scooter. Something else.
December 5. Giving to those less fortunate! Let’s go through the playroom and pick some toys you don’t use much anymore and would like to give to a child who doesn’t have any toys. How about this unopened puzzle? How can it be your favourite? It’s never been opened. No, that one is missing six pieces, you cannot give that to an underprivileged child. Oh never mind, I’ll steal your stuff when you’re asleep, Grinch-style.
December 6. Listen to some Christmas music! Not ‘Kung Fu Fighting’. Because it’s not a Christmas song. It just isn’t. How do you know what a Christmas song is? Look, it has to have bells in it, all right?
December 7. Another Christmas brainstorming session! We still haven’t got anything for Granddad. No, probably not a DVD of Kung Fu Panda. Or Tinkerbell and the Pirate Queen. They are good ideas, I just think he might already have them.
December 8. Special late night TV party! With your friends, because we are drinking port with their parents!
December 9. Another special Christmas-themed dinner! Spaghetti bolognese again. I will not pick off the basil for you, because I am tired. No parmesan cheese. It doesn’t snow here.
December 10. Christmas movie night! Snuggle up on the sofa to watch Polar Express. When you open the DVD case, surprise! You didn’t put the DVD back last time you watched it and now no one knows where it is. Too bad. No movie for you. Learn to look after your stuff.
December 11. Special Christmas treat! Go to bed while it’s still broad daylight! Let’s pretend it’s the North Pole! In the summer! I need to do this now since you’ve asked for a watch from Santa Claus and soon you’ll know when I’m putting you to bed at four pm!
December 12. WOW! Marvel at the antics of your neighbours’ Elf on the Shelf when Mummy and Daddy eat a whole packet of chocolates and forget to hide the wrappers before you find them! That sneaky old elf, coming over here and leaving a chocolaty mess! We’ll have to get the neighbours to lock him up at night.
December 13. Christmas craft! Cut out loads of bits of coloured paper and spread liberal quantities of glue on yourself and the dining room furniture before giving me a really hard time because I won’t buy glitter like Clem’s mum, and then lose interest and don’t clean up.
December 14. Christmas shopping! Come to the shopping centre with Mummy and Daddy and watch them hiss at each other and take deep breaths while muttering fucksakes. Exploit their vulnerable state and nag them for ice-cream. Help them remember why they swore last year that they’d order everything online.
December 15. More Christmas bolognese! It’s fine, really. That green bit is probably basil. I’ll just microwave it until it’s really hot.
December 16. Just, I don’t know, have a festive bath or something. We’re going to a Christmas party. For grownups.
December 17. Go play at the neighbours’ house! Ask if you can stay for dinner. Mummy’s got a headache.
December 18. Help with the Christmas baking! Wash your hands please. You can both fit on that stool STOP PUSHING OR SOMEONE WILL GET – right, see? What did I just say would happen? You can put the new Rudolph icepack on that.
December 19. Extended family lunch! So many cousins! Feel ripped off in the Kris Kringle because some cousins got way better presents than you.
December 20. Extended family lunch with the other side! Only one baby cousin to fight over. Moan all afternoon, as my threats of Santa finding out and being very disappointed fall upon deaf ears
December 21. Your grandmother’s coming to stay! TIDY UP THIS ROOM OR I WILL GIVE ALL THESE TOYS TO CHILDREN WHO APPRECIATE THEM. My goodness, what would Santa think? I think he would be heartbroken. Heartbroken. Poor Santa.
December 22. Stop adding things to your Christmas list! How’s are Santa’s elves going to have time to make that.
December 23. Eat cherries! Five each. The rest are for Christmas day. I am serious. I am not going back to the supermarket until New Year.
December 24. Christmas Eve supermarket trip! Discover the miracle of seasonal pricing, when we see that cherries cost twice what they did yesterday. Followed by a super special Christmas takeaway pizza for dinner because there is no food in our house that anyone is allowed to eat until tomorrow.
December 25. Christmas Day! Anyone who stays in bed past six am can have a pony. Oh well, no ponies this year.