By Leslie Parks - Sunday, November 23, 2014

Advent calendars and activities abound on Pinterest and other social media sites at this time of year. They have all these cute little gifts packaged up and put on display as if it was in a store.  Twenty four little gifts so that you get something before the big reveal of gifts under the tree.  Gifts all month long.  I remember as a kid getting the chocolate advent calendars in the mail from my Grandparents in Europe.  These advent calendars with chocolate in the shape of some Christmas thing such as a poinsettia or ornament inside and a beautiful illustration on the cover.  Of course Christmas Eve, the chocolate would be bigger and it might be in the shape of Santa Clause.  Then there were the advent calendars that had a scene on the outside and a different picture on the inside.  You would get up in the morning and excitedly open a "window" to see what the picture would be.  We were excited over the picture or the one tiny piece of chocolate.  Of course I was a child that couldn't wait to see each surprise and I would carefully secretly open all the windows in one day and then close them again.  I loved these advent calendars and would look forward to them all year long, sad when they were done. We didn't get little gifts at all, just opening a window was enough to stir up our excitement for Christmas day. Fastforward 30 years. Yikes, it has been that long. The advent calendar has morphed into a big production of shopping for the perfect little gifts and then wrapping them up and making a store worthy display.  I get caught up in all of it too, trying to create the magic of Christmas that I felt when I was a kid, forgetting that the simplicity of it all was magic in itself.  Last year I decided after Christmas to scale down and create my own advent calendar with pictures.  I thought about all the activities that already dominate the month and then thought about little things that are fun and don't require me to do anything special.  I had hoped that I might be able to package them and sell them but haven't quite figured that out yet.  Some of the activities can be done on the way to activities we already participate in and some are just at home anyway.  Making an orange pomander or eating Christmas candy, wearing bells on your shoes are just a few activities that don't require me to purchase another gift. In fact they don't require much at all.  Christmas candy abounds at this time of year just in time for the Halloween candy to be finished.

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