Like So Many Things, Advent Calendars Have Totally Jumped The Shark

by Christine Burke
Originally Published: 
advent calendars

When I was in kindergarten, I can distinctly remember sitting at my desk, carefully cutting red and green construction paper strips with my safety scissors. As I painstakingly cut along the lines my teacher had drawn, I remember being excited to fashion the strips into a long chain that I could use to count off how many days were left until Christmas. The teacher came around to each desk and helped us use the stapler to connect the rings into a red and green snake that I proudly carried home to my mother.

We hung the chain up in the kitchen, where I removed a chain link every day — for about four days and then promptly forgot about my carefully constructed, rudimentary Advent calendar. In the 1970s, no one really gave a shit about Advent calendars.

But now, thanks to Pinterest-obsessed, helicoptering, one-upping parents, construction paper chains have been long forgotten. And forget buying your kid one of those 99¢ calendars with the tiny pieces of crappy chocolate.

Nope, nowadays parents are concocting organic, free-range, eco-friendly, budget-busting Advent calendars.

A quick search of Advent calendars on Pinterest makes me want to put an ice pick in my eye when I think about how much goddamned work goes into executing a Christmas tree Advent calendar made entirely out of toilet paper rolls. Or worse, 25 crocheted mini-stockings, each filled with their own Montessori-inspired toy. And if you have more than one precious snowflake? Yeah. You do the math. It’s bullshit.

Seriously, parents, we’ve lost our damned minds once again with these damn countdown calendars. I’m fairly certain that when Jesus was counting down the days until his birthday, Mary wasn’t hand-carving ornaments out of wood so that he could hang them on the tree in anticipation of his favorite day of the year.

We’ve lost perspective on a very simple, sweet tradition, and it blows my mind that parents are perpetuating the myth that we need to give our kids actual gifts for 24 days in a row before the biggest gift-giving haul of the year. (I know, your family, your choice, and you aren’t doing it for anyone else, blah blah blah.)

When we were kids, the anticipation of Christmas was pure magic because we didn’t get a single goddamned present until Santa shoved his ass down the chimney.

We had to go to sleep, night after night in December, eagerly awaiting Santa’s bounty, and we had to not-so-patiently wonder how much longer it was until we could tear down the stairs in our footie pajamas and rip open the presents under the tree.

Our parents didn’t calm our overexcited nerves with fantastical treats and presents every day until Christmas. No, instead, our mothers would roll their eyes and say in an exasperated voice, “It’s still 12 days until Santa comes. Now go the fuck outside so I can watch Donahue.”

We learned patience and anticipation back in the day. We learned that good things come to those who wait. We learned that Christmas didn’t revolve around our own need to be instantly gratified. Christmas and the holiday season was easier and simpler. And though it came with its own challenges (I mean, I have no idea how my mother survived without Amazon Prime, honestly), we had a healthy respect for the real reason for the season.

Advent calendars started out in Germany around the 1800s and they were simple AF, people. Chalk marks were made on doorways or candles were lit on a table. If they wanted to get really fancy, they’d use nuts or berries to commemorate the days leading up to the Christmas season.

I’d wager a bet that if a German mom from the 1800s got a load of our modern day Advent calendars made with chocolates flown in from Belize or from driftwood that came from the beaches of Tahiti, she’d look at all of us and say, “Nein!

Modern day parents, we have made our jobs harder with all of this one-upping bullshit. I don’t have enough time in the damned day to make sure that I have a special little trinket for each of my snowflakes on the 24 days leading up to masquerading as Santa.

And, to the parent who posted the picture of the Advent calendar Christmas tree made entirely of balloons that the kids can pop daily? Fuck that noise. Literally. Do you even go here? My nerves are already shot by December 12 without kids running around and popping balloons up in this joint.

So, parents, let’s CTFD this year and say a giant collective “Nope” to over-the-top Advent calendars. I won’t judge you if you get the construction paper out and tell your kids to make their own damned countdown. No one needs to buy the expensive perfume Advent calendar from the fancy store in London, because, let’s face it: Jesus was born in a stable next to the smell of donkey dung, not exquisitely expensive perfumes in 24 different scents artfully arranged in a gorgeous case. Perspective, people.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be stealing the tiny wine bottles out of the wine Advent calendar I bought this year. That is an Advent calendar I can get behind! I mean, I can’t be expected to make it until Christmas without a special treat, right?

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