December 5, 2006
December means Christmas but the first of the month means one thing: Advent Calendars. I don’t know what it was about these things but they were a staple of every December evening when I was little. Usually my sister and I would each have one. Each day they would tell part of a story. We would recite from memory the previous nights and then open that night’s door.
Some years, if my parents found one on sale after the previous Christmas, we would get an Advent Calendar with candy behind each door. We would have to trade off each night which one of us would get the piece of chocolate, its a good thing there were only two of us. If we were bad on our day, then we would lose our chocolate for the night and the other sibling would benefit. I can’t think of a more severe punishment from my childhood than the nights when I was denied the chocolate, likely as a result of something I did to my sister. Looking back it makes no sense. It was a tiny piece of year old chocolate that likely wasn’t even good when it was fresh.
Another tradition, which oddly enough depended on if my sister and I behaved each day was putting hay in the manger. Baby Jesus was not placed in our Nativity Scene until Christmas morning. Its just crazy to have him in there before, he wasn’t born yet. Each night depending on how good we were, we got to put hay into the manger. If we were really good then we got more hay. If we were bad during the day we’d be threatened with “Do you want Baby Jesus to freeze?” If we didn’t wise up, then no hay went in. On those rare occasions where the ultimate punishment was in order, hay was removed from the manger. I love how religion brings families together.
One year Baby Jesus didn’t make it into the manger. Christmas morning came and Mom couldn’t find him. He was never found. We just assumed he had his holidays confused and he ascended.