have not been a feature of my life.
As a family we did not celebrate Christmas like that. My mother was not one for decorating the house. She would put up the Christmas cards my parents received and that was about it.
Now that was not entirely her fault. We spent a good many Christmases in the homes of our grandparents. This was because we were living in remote areas and the big treat for us was to come to the city for the holidays. Even though the holidays meant things like trips to the dentist we considered being in the city interesting.
My maternal grandmother had an artificial tree that could be put together and then taken apart. We were permitted to decorate that under strict supervision. (We were told exactly where to put each decoration.)
My paternal grandparents had a real tree. It came in a pot and my grandfather, perhaps before his time, would take it off to be planted at the end of the festive season. Of course this meant it wasn't a particularly big tree but we all liked the fact that it was alive and, hopefully, that it survived.
But I didn't see an advent calendar until I was in my teens. Then I saw one which had been made by Dutch friends for their children. It was made from timber and looked like a house. The many windows and doors opened on to different things each year. Even at the age of thirteen I found this fascinating. I think I would still find it fascinating. It was a work of art.
I didn't see another advent calendar until I started teaching. One of the children brought a calendar to school for all of us to share. We hung it on the classroom wall. There were not enough doors for everyone to open one so we agreed the boy who had brought it in should be the one to open the doors.
Of course there was no internet then and the school library had nothing about advent calendars in it. We simply enjoyed it and I helped the children make their own to take home.
But yesterday Ms W was sent an electronic advent calendar from our friend N.... in England. It is an extraordinary thing. It has music, games, puzzles and more. Ms W is not one to play computer games but she was impatient for her father to get home from work so she could challenge him.
I have just had a short email from her. "It's heaps fun and even better because I can do it with him" (her father).
It makes me wish I had made an advent calendar with her when she was young, something she could have shared with her father then. But I am truly grateful to N... for thinking Ms W might like it.