Christmas is one of my favourite times of year, not because I’m particularly religious—in fact, I’m not religious at all—but because I love the trappings of the season, many of which date back to pre-Christian times. I adore the tree and the twinkle lights, the decorations, even the snow on the ground for one day of my life. And of course, the presents. I’ve never been too proud to say that I like getting presents as much as giving them, and if you know anything about me at all, you’ll know that the Jehovah’s Witnesses can come to my house as many times as they like, but until they lift their weird-ass moratorium on getting gifts, they will never own my eternal soul. But the one concession I make in terms of the more heavily Christian aspect of the holiday season is the Advent calendar. Every year, I buy several different kinds for Ken and Kate. The current favourites are Lego for Ken and Lego Friends for Kate. For a treatise on Lego and sexism, please feel free to go to My Week 266: Toys for Girls and Boys; luckily, Ken and Kate have no issues with ‘girl’ vs. boy’ toys and Ken’s Lego snowman is holding a pink and purple boombox decorated with hearts, while Kate’s Lego girl figure is wielding a sword (and why there’s even a sword in an Lego Advent calendar is a mystery for another day). I also got them your standard Lindt chocolate calendars, one of which I had also purchased for myself but then gave away to my nephew, leaving me sans Advent-ure.
And you’d think that SOMEONE in my house would be like, ‘Oh poor you—here, let me buy you an Advent calendar of your own so that you can join in the fun’ but alas, that did not happen. What did happen is that, hopes dashed, I went out at the last minute to get one for my own damn self, but all they had left were Reese’s Peanut Butter calendars. At first read, I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘Why, that’s not so bad’ but let me assure you that after last year’s Reese’s fiasco, I was none too pleased. Let me explain:
There are 24 doors on an Advent calendar, one for every day from December 1st to December 24th. Every door on the Reese’s calendar is exactly the same size, with the exception of December 24th, which is HUGE. So every day last year, while Ken and Kate were oohing and ahhing over the adorable Lego, or the assorted Lindt chocolates (balls, bells, bars, teddy bears), I extracted a very small, very miniature peanut butter cup from my calendar. But the last window was so big that I consoled myself: ‘It’s going to be the BIG CUP. Maybe even the one stuffed with Reese’s Pieces!’ I mean, it had to be, right? There had to be a pay-off at the end that made the tiny cups, barely a morsel in the mouth, and all the waiting, worthwhile. Because part of the discipline of the Advent calendar is NOT ripping the whole thing open and eating all the chocolate at once—it’s having ONE each day no matter how bad your chocolate craving is. So every time I thought of skipping ahead, even by one day, I would remember the BIG CUP waiting, and I would go have a glass of wine instead. Then at long last, it was Christmas Eve, the day when I could finally reveal my Big Cup and gloat a bit while Ken and Kate were nibbling on their Lindt bunnies. I pulled back the giant cardboard window and guess what was in there? Inset into a much smaller container within the giant window was a very small Reese’s ‘praline’ cup. A tiny f*cking PRALINE CUP?! A month of waiting for that? I’ve been disappointed many times in my life, but this one made the top ten.
(Slight tangent: I was also very disappointed two days ago when Kate, Ken, and I finally finished the very complex 500 piece jigsaw puzzle we were working on as a family, only to discover, as I had indeed suspected, that Atlas had eaten several of the pieces, and Mexico City was looking very hole-y. Atlas defended himself by claiming that he was only trying to help, but undermined his own defence by whispering, “They were so delicious.”)
At any rate, I’ve made my Reese’s Peace with being deprived yet again of the Big Cup. And I’ve already bought the Lego Advent Calendars for next year and hidden them in the fireplace. And before you think I burned them in a fit of pique, let me explain that when we moved into our house, the previous owner privately called me over to the elaborate fireplace surround they had constructed, and pulled down what looked like a decorative panel to reveal a hidden compartment. I’ve used it ever since to hide presents, although it’s a bit too warm for chocolate. And then two days ago, Kate was assembling her most recent Lego Advent toy:
Kate: This Lego cake is adorable! I hope there’s one just like it in next year’s calendar!
Me: Who can say?
Kate: I’ll go look—it probably shows it on the box.
Me: What box?
Kate: The one in the fireplace.
Me: What are you talking about?
Kate: Your secret hiding spot. Behind the gold panel. Come on, Mom, I’ve known about that for years.
And now I’ve lost my secret hiding spot. Imagine my disappointment.