When did Advent calendars become the monsters they have?
Gone are the days when you’d have a flimsy piece of cardboard, as near as you could get to being homemade, adorning your mantelpiece.
In my Balham flat, in the sixties, the moment December arrived I’d erect mine (Advent calendar) and wait, with childlike anticipation, until the 24th (the night before Christmas when I’d also be hurriedly, and badly wrapping, my mum’s Bronnley bath salts).
However, my brain must have been like a goldfish as, when the 24th came, the only number with a double door, behind which was always the same: the baby Jesus lying in a manger. You’d be lulled into a false sense of security all month as you’d open one each day to reveal a picture of a snow-covered post-box, a robin, an old fish (if you’d got your calendar free from that month’s Trout and Salmon magazine) – items vaguely relevant to Christmas and then, bang! The baby Jesus again.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of the baby Jesus being there – certainly in preference to a dead trout. However, these days the windows are no longer pictures of sugar cane sweets, holly or an immolating Christmas pudding, but actual gifts.
They are now as big as houses and many theme-based.
The Wise Men weren’t in Frozen, but if you were to look at any Advent calendar today you might be fooled into thinking that Elsa, Anna and Olaf were the bearers of gifts.
In 4 BC you’d have not been able to take Myrrh or Frankincense back to the Bethlehem branch of John Lewis!