Advent calendars! There are so many to chose from these days. From Gin to Whisky; Beauty to Beer; Lego to candles and of course an array of chocolate varieties. Amazing!
My son, Mitch, doesn’t like chocolate (I know, right!). So when he was little, his Nan gave him a advent hangy thing with fruit pastilles inside. Perfect. So thoughtful and fun for little Mitch to open his daily mini Santa sack and enjoy a cheeky sweetie before school. As he has gotten older, I have set myself the challenge to continue the fun leading up to Christmas by inventing new ideas for his advent season. Last year Mitch was away at college so I made an ‘advent hamper’ full of his favourite treats such as cans of J20, custard cream biscuits and ‘lemon two cakes’. This year I stumbled across the perfect thing: a Pringles Advent Calendar – although it is only for 12 days (what’s that about!). I decided as I would be collecting Mitch from college on the 15th I would add 3 more to the top using that as the countdown to our Christmas.
A few years ago, I made a stack of advent drawers from matchboxes and filled each drawer with a piece of lego for the kids, which they could construct together on Christmas Eve with the instructions and the last piece. The workmanship on the drawers wasn’t great and they are looking a little tired – so the next generation of advent drawers were introduced last year and this year the homemade version is being kept away.
In all the excitement of managing to sort Mitch’s advent solution before 1st December, I had completely forgotten that I needed to organise my daughter Lucy’s advent drawers. It was the 30th November and I didn’t have anything to fill the drawers with in time. In a previous life, this would have sent me into a state of horror and I would have panic-purchased 24 gifts with no regard to significance or cost. I won’t deny, I panicked a little this time round. But then my internal voice calmly pointed out: “you only need to fill tomorrow’s drawer”. WHAT A REVELATION! I had a cheeky chocolate I could put in the drawer. Situation diffused.
I am writing this post on 3rd December. I have managed to buy a couple of small things to put in the next few drawers. This approach has given me the enjoyment of finding unique and special tiny items to place in the drawers instead of mindless junk that I would have grabbed in a state of urgency. One of the treasures was too big so I wrote a clue on a piece of paper and hid the gift in the house for Lucy to find – this turned out to be just as much fun as receiving the surprise itself.
Dealing with a seemingly giant problem by breaking it down into bite size, manageable chunks was a lesson I learnt when was losing my hair. The only thing I could do at the time of my hair falling out was take each day a time.
As a family, we are currently going through a sad time with an elderly relative who is very poorly in hospital. There are many questions regarding her immediate future but no one can answer any of them. So we tell ourselves, all we can do is take each day or half day or hour at a time. This is the most helpful way to deal with a difficult situation.
In a busy world, with many competing demands to be juggled, life can sometimes be utterly overwhelming. Regardless of whether we are facing a huge emotional challenge, or dealing with something that should seem relatively trivial, we can easily become unexpectedly de-railed. I wrote about this in relation to my difficulties with facing e-mails last year. I still think that the Pema Chödrön quote I used in that post is one of the most helpful I have come across for all aspects of life: