It’s fair to say that Advent calendars have come a long way in recent years.
Back in the eighties, we counted ourselves lucky to have a calendar made from flimsy cardboard, usually with a traditional nativity scene on the front. The 24 doors were notoriously difficult to open and – in our house at least – there were often tears when the inevitable happened and a door came off in the pudgy hand of an unsuspecting child. However, once the perforated door had been prised open, there was treasure to be found in the form of a Christmas-themed picture. If you were lucky, your door would reveal something exciting like a snowman or Santa; if not, you would have half a snowflake and a tangle of shrubbery (which, as an adult, you would discover was the infamous kissing plant, mistletoe). There were no chocolates, no Lego models and definitely no pork scratchings.
Nowadays, I can’t imagine many children being overly thrilled at the prospect of a calendar which contained nothing more than a series of badly printed illustrations. They expect – at the very least – chocolate, and not just for the 24 days we had to make do with as children, now there also needs to be some kind of special chocolate behind door number 25 (as if the pile of presents under the tree wasn’t enough to keep them busy on Christmas morning).
As playground talk turns to Advent calendars, there are bound to be those children who have eschewed the usual chocolate calendar for something altogether more interesting and will take great delight in sharing their finds with their classmates. Rather than simply having a choice between milk and white chocolate, kids nowadays have got the option of pretty much every type of confectionery going, be it jellies, candy or lollipops. Then there are the calendars filled with toys, whether it’s a mini figurine behind each door or a set of 25 pieces which come together to create a model by Christmas morning.
Adults are also getting in on the Advent calendar scene, with companies offering diverse (and often rather expensive) calendars including beauty products, scented candles and a whole range of alcoholic beverages. For those with a savoury – rather than sweet – tooth, calendars containing different types of cheese, and even ones containing mini bags of pork scratchings, are now available too.
What would your fantasy Advent calendar contain? Mine would be one with a miniature sachet of Marmite behind every door: just enough to scrape over my toast each morning.
Make a difference. Whatever type of calendar you choose for yourself or your loved ones this Christmas, please spare a thought for those children who – due to family circumstances – won’t have one at all. The simple act of buying an additional Advent calendar and donating it to your local food bank will help Calendars 4 Kids to fulfil their aim of ensuring no child has to go without an Advent calendar this Christmas. Better still, encourage your friends, family and work colleagues to do the same so that even more children can benefit.
And each day, as you open a door on your own calendar, you can be proud of the fact that your generosity has brought a smile to a child’s face.
Now I’m off to make some toast (with Marmite, of course).