- Ted & Debbie (Photographers)
There’s no stopping it. The Christmas books have been taken out of the upstairs closet. Apparently The Grinch couldn’t stop it, the 80 degree temperatures of last week couldn’t thwart it. So, we just let it happen. With the coming of December 1st. the Advent calendar is brought up from the basement, the floodgates are slowly opened and the holidays begin.
Everyday Debbie puts a different treat into the tiny little holes in the wooden advent calendar I made while listening to the 2000 election results on the radio in my workshop. Since the holes are so small the advent experience has morphed into clues being placed into the holes which leads our boys on a mad search around the house reminiscent of an angry mob storming Frankensteins castle.
Sometimes (almost ecery day) we get a up a little bit on the late side so the Advent experience sometimes waits till after the boys get home from school.
A weekend Advent hunt turned up a gingerbread house kit. They went right to work consuming rather than constructing the stale panels, icing and candy.
When I made our Advent calender back in November of 2000, I made a mistake. I put on a 25th day. I remember being out in my workshop listening to the Bush vs. Gore election debacle on NPR. Something must have overtaken me, some radio spirit of Christmas future saying, “add another day, add another day.” So I did. That’s okay, elections results are supposed to be a reflection of who the people voted for, not a Supreme Court decision. Advent Calenders only have 24 days. So, the 25th of December is always reserved for our Ollie.
It’s hard on Ollie sharing the spotlight on his birthday. Some of the concessions we’ve made with him are that he gets a present on his 4 brothers birthdays and we try to devote Christmas evening dinner to his birthday celebration. We used to do a big Christmas eve dinner but as our child volume increased our Xmas eve gift wrapping started to creepingÂ into the daylight hours. We need to give some time for Santa to make a visit to our house, right?
The other day in Ollie’s 1st grade class Debbie told the story of when Ollie was born. He was born at 1:10 am Christmas morning. Debbie and I did not tell any relatives that he had arrived. I don’t know how, but we somehow convinced everyone associated with Good Samaritan Hospital that we needed to get home by 7:30 to watch our other boys open up their Xmas presents. When we got home that morning we relieved our friend Beth who had graciously spent the night with our boys. We called up Debbie’s parents to come over to watch the boys open presents and have breakfast which was sort of tradition. When they walked in the door we said, “close your eyes, we got a gift for you.” Debbie put little new-born Oliver Moss Catanzaro in his Omi’s arms. Needless to say, they were both speechless and in tears. Happy birthday Ollie!
Do you remember those ads in comic books selling you things that that you wished were true, but never quite happened. Things like x-ray vision glasses, a life size submarine, sea monkeys, and throwing your voice. They promised a world of craziness and fantasy that messed with our kid mind of longing for a world of craziness and fantasy. Maybe that’s why we read comic books.
The gift placed in the box for day 3 of advent was a little snowman promising that if you submerge it in water it will grow to 600 times its size. I had a feeling this wasn’t true. The kids however were pretty excited about having a big snowman around the house for the holidays. So what to do? I kept on saying, “you need to soak the snowman in a large body of water, like our bathtub, if you really want it to get huge. Then it’s to the workshop with old plywood, zigsaw and paint to create what was promised.
So, after the shape is cut, the snowmans’ paint is dry and I’ve convinced the kids that they need to soak the small one in the bathtub overnight the switch is made. And, in the morning we were all surprised by a snowman who has grown 600 times its original size.
The arrival of December 1st brings the advent calender up from the basement. I made this box in November of 2000 during the Bush vs. Gore election. I mention this for no other reason then to say the radio in my workshop was tuned to NPR during the duration of this project.(I moved on to conservative A.M. talk radio for the past election) Every time I bring it up from the basement I think of that bizarre election.Â It’s a bit crude, clunky and funky but it’s become a tradition in our house. Debbie stays up late to stash little trinkets, clues and holiday riddles and jokes in the wee little boxes. Sometimes the morning brings a chaotic pushing and shoving brought about by the opening of the box. There are inevitably shouts of “It’s unfair”!,” Is this all we get?”, “Do you want to trade? ” We keep on threatening that if the ungrateful behavior continues we will go out to the drugstore and get a store bought calender like I had when I was a kid. I loved that calender.