“Aren’t you a bit too old for that now?” asked my mother. I could see her furrowed eyebrows on the other side of the line while the question sent shockwaves of denial through my body. Old, maybe, but too grown up? I pondered; remembering vividly how I had once pledged to the world by shouting out of our attic window that I would in fact NEVER grow up!
The question was, of course, a perfectly normal reaction to the request of a 30-year old woman for a handmade advent calendar. In my defence, it was asked in aid of my home sickness after I had just moved from Germany to England. With only a few months in and the festive season lurking it had become evident that ideas of celebratory rituals and traditions were very different and left me missing dearly the familiar cosiness of my childhood home. My favourite Englishman had downright refused the idea to make a homemade calendar let alone receive one, claiming the store bought version was a family tradition – and he liked the chocolate better anyway, thank you very much.
Alas I was faced for the first time in my life with a non-handmade Christmas countdown and so I had turned to my mother for help. I was proud to admit that at the age of 30, I had yet to miss a year thanks to her amazing craftiness.
But I knew it there and then, with her question lingering in my ear; it was the beginning of the end. My mum did show mercy that year, but the following one she BOUGHT one! But not any old calendar, no. With a few dints here and there and a leak out of one corner arrived a paper cask with perforated doors on the front – hiding 24 beers of the world! Unfortunately, the Englishman, despite being English, is actually not a huge fan of beers. So it was down to me to sample half a litre beer every night until Christmas.
In order to compensate the growing resistance from my mother, I resolved for a while to getting crafty myself for the benefit of the Englishman. However, my attempts to introduce him to the delights of handmade advent calendars fell rather short.
Despite acknowledging that the option of adding your favourite chocolate is somewhat tastier, he was not to be convinced. I made 24 tiny parcels one year and crafted a Christmas tree forest scene out of cones another. His reaction? I don’t really like all that chocolate!
But, I wasn’t giving up so easily. The year after I made him a non-chocolate “Guess what?”-puzzle. He hardly bat an eyelid.
Then, last year, I resumed to something much less inventive: I filled 24 envelopes with a photo of him and our littlest lady and bought him a small photo album to collect them all in. Guess what? He was delighted!
So I decided to leave it at that and not rack my brains anymore. This year it’s going to be another 24 envelopes filled with my favourite photos from 2017 of the two of them. It’s only a few more years before the littlest lady will get the hang of Christmas and I finally have someone to unleash all my crafty ideas on to.
The year after the beer calendar, by the way, I called my mum not to bother with an advent calendar and dusted off her quilted one from my teenage years instead. I hung it over the fireplace, bought myself some chocolate during my weekly shop and left it with a note for the Englishman on the table. The instructions read: Please distribute the attached chocolate evenly in the calendar over the fireplace: One for each day, two for Christmas Eve. Leftovers are for your own enjoyment.
It was a surprisingly satisfying compromise.
Oh & H – a homemakers column. A weekly sharing of life’s little stories between a tiny terraced house and an overgrowing allotment.