Advent calendars

Friday 19 November 2010
Growing up in Borneo, I remember Christmas very differently to what it is now. I've never even heard of advent calendars until recently. In fact, Christmas tree decoration were haphazardly purchased and discarded. Thus there weren't any nostalgic memories attached to any of them. In fact, our Christmas tree was this weird spider like tree which had little leaves and the "presents" under it were empty shoeboxes wrapped up in Christmas decorative paper. Beautiful lights were hung on lampposts along all the major roads. The stereo systems in the shops blasted Christmas songs day and night. We practised our Christmas songs weeks ahead and performed in our school and local church. I remember going Christmas carrolling till the wee hours of the night, belting out "The First Noel" until we were so hoarse we could barely talk the next day. No one slept early on Christmas eve because we had to be in church for the midnight mass.

One Christmas, my aunts and I spent an entire day in the kitchen baking all the delicious nyonya cakes. Those were the days when my aunts were young and single with all the time in the world to indulge their nieces and nephews (aka my siblings and I). As kids, we had tons of parties to attend which often involved games such as musical chairs with the party ending on a high note when a skinny Chinese looking santa turned up in a suit 3 sizes too big and a pillow stuffed around his waist.

Things were always hectic around Christmas Day and Boxing Day because everyone went "visiting". The roads were jam-packed as everyone were out and about to see friends and family. This was the ONLY time other than Chinese New Year where us kids could stuff our faces silly with cookies, cakes and fizzy drinks and mom couldn't say anything. You see, mom was a nurse and a health nut as well as our sweet police. Every sweet given to us had to be handed in. Whatever happened thereafter was a mystery because we never saw those sweeties ever again.

Christmas in New Zealand, however, is a quiet affair. You could hear a pin drop because the roads are practically empty with not a soul in sight between December 25-26. Over the next two decades, we got used to the frantic pace where buying presents was a frantic exercise one must do in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Everyone looked stressed in the malls. In short, Christmas became commercial.

I think this year, I'd like to get my very first advent calendar but I'd like one that actually reflect the true nature of Christmas and that is, to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I'd like the kids to understand what Christmas is all about and no, it's not all about presents.

Glittered 24-door advent calendar illustrated with the scene in Bethlehem on Christmas night. 3D effect foreground. Opened windows illuminate when placed (safely) in front of a light source. Bible verses and pictures inside windows. Orchard Cards £5.25

Traditional 24-door advent calendar illustrated with a nativity scene. Orchard Cards £5.99

Unusual and fun pop-up stable-scene advent calendar. Open a door each day to press out a small cardboard nativity character to make up the full tableau by December 24th. Orchard Cards £8.99

Delightful re-usuable advent calendar in the form of a 3D Christmas Cottage. Fold the cardboard to construct the cottage, and fill each of the 24 little drawers with a tiny gift or sweet. No glue is required and the cottage can be disassembled and folded away. Orchard Cards £8.99


  1. I love give & receive advent calendars, they really make the pre-Christmas time more fun.

  2. I thought these would make the kids really happy. They're still a novelty to me :)



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