Traditions transpiring

By Nancy Black


Now is the time of year I do three things: start freaking out about the holidays; pull out all our hats, coats and gloves; and head to a German bakery for Advent calendars. (I know I can find them elsewhere, but it just puts me in a festive spirit to walk into Kuby’s or Henk’s Black Forest Bakery during the holidays.)

These days, anyone can find any kind of Advent calendar their heart desires in stores, and especially online. Some even have a different bottle of wine for each day counting down to Christmas Eve. Obviously, the true meaning of an Advent Calendar — as created by the Lutherans in the 19th century to mark the coming of Christ into the world — has morphed into another multi-billion-dollar holiday-related industry.

My children and I have always enjoyed gathering around our Advent calendars every Christmastime, peeling back the “window” of the day, and eating the little pieces of chocolate inside. One year, we got a real Advent calendar, where you fill the little wooden boxes up with your own candy. I used leftover Halloween candy. It did not go over well.

My sister, who is well aware of our chocolatey tradition, sent me a cool link recently. It was about creating your own “reverse” Advent calendar. Instead of taking something out of a little paper window, you put something into a small cardboard box. That something could be a can of food, a new toothbrush, a pair of socks, etc. Each day you put something in the box and by Christmas Eve, you have an entire box full of items ready for donation.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, unless you’re homeless or down on your luck. Then it becomes the worst time of the year. Our less fortunate neighbors desperately need our help — always — but especially now.

Instead of freaking out about what I should do before the end of 2018, I’m going to start concentrating on what I can do right now. I can very easily fill a box with one “basic human needs” item every day from now until Dec. 24. And I know it won’t be hard to find a local charity where I can donate my box. Now, if I could just convince myself I don’t need my daily delightful Advent calendar chocolate this holiday season. Wish me luck!