Seasonal Changes: Advent’s Coming!

Life and all that jazz have been happening at a full stop here this past month: My husband, whose immune system is weakened by chemotherapy at the moment, caught the flu at work, and was down for nearly 2 weeks; though I managed to avoid it a week, it finally caught up with me and within a few days had dropped into my lungs (it’s not Covid-19 – I already know what that feels like!). So this month, I’ve been out of action except for coughing and sleepless nights. Ergo, no blogging. I haven’t had enough brainpower to think about any topic for more than a few minutes. I’m now on the mend, with a vaccination cure for bronchitis on the go. Now that I slowly have more energy returning, I’ve come out of that “zone” – that tunnel vision that focuses only on the most elemental priorities, like health – and realized that October is nearly over. Advent is on the way! [I know that, for Americans at least, Thanksgiving is in focus before Advent, though we don’t have that as a traditional festive day here.]

The last few days have been Indian summer here, so we’ve been getting ready for winter and seasonal changes. I’m taking advantage of the sunny balcony to spray paint crafts. I’m starting to think about advent calendars, stocking stuffers, and Samichlaussäckli. I’ve gone through my crafts inventory for the annual Christmas market, where I sell things, and I’ve planned the annual baking day with a friend to make things for our families as well as for selling at the market.

I’ve talked about how minimalistic most Swiss households are decorated, so I won’t have much preparation where that’s concerned. But one thing I do begin to prepare now is the advent calendar. Our advent calendar the past few years has been a decorative ribbon strung along a wall, with small Christmas stockings hung with numbered wooden clothes pegs. I’ve made the stockings (pictured below), and they can double as silverware holders on a decorative table at Christmas – that’s assuming we can have guests around that time, Covid notwithstanding. I’ve also made matching wine slip-coasters (shown) and matching wine charms to go with each glass’s stocking.

It’s getting harder to find good advent gifts; we have everything we need. Larger gifts go under the tree or in a larger stocking, but what are small gifts – about the size of a lip balm? Somehow, every year, I manage to find 12 each that are practical or fun: mini toiletry items, erasers, pens, fun magnets or post-its, small liqueurs for my husband (though this year, that’s a no-go due to chemo), rings or earrings, sampler perfumes or aftershaves and, of course, one individually-wrapped chocolate in each (something like Ferrero Rocher or Raffaello– something that won’t leak, like Mon Cheri).

In the midst of all that, as my energy returns, I’ve been sculpting the ending of my current manuscript (science fiction). That takes a level of mental focus that has been fleeting this month, so I try to catch it when I can and have the grace with my health situation not to stress when I can’t. When I can’t write, I at least have the energy to do something crafty.

While writing this, my curiosity has been building, so now come the questions to you!

Do you have an Advent calendar? If so, what’s it like? Do you have gifts, or simply opening doors with an image hiding behind them? If you have one with gifts, did you make it yourself or buy a store-bought themed calendar? Did you grow up with a culture of Advent calendars where you live/lived as a child? I did not, so I’ve thoroughly embraced the Swiss tradition, adding my own twist of stockings (which are not common here, though the idea is catching on slowly).

I’d love to read your answers in the comments below!

Happy preparation for the coming seasons!

9 Comments

Filed under Articles, Cartoon, Family History, Musings

9 responses to “Seasonal Changes: Advent’s Coming!

  1. a chocolate for each of the days of the month is the closest. But having read your blog, it’s good to be reminded, about the added harm the covid can release. I hope your health and that of your partner is good,and happy christmas, I put up my lights a couple of weeks ago, it’s good for the heart,amen

  2. I didn’t know about Advent calendars until I married John and became a Lutheran. We have had simple calendars, especially when the children were little. These days, we just use one we’ve had before.

    I’m glad y’all are somewhat on the mend these days. Being ill and losing concentration is no fun at all.

  3. Thank you for your kind wishes. We will put up our Christmas lights at the end of November, but we do have some light strings up all year long inside! One, around the ceiling of our living room – it’s a nice ambient light if you’re up after dark and don’t want to turn on brighter lights, and we also have two on the upper floor for the same purpose.

  4. So are Advent calendars common among Lutherans? I grew up Methodist (later to more charismatic churches), and Advent was not much of a topic.

  5. Yes, Lutherans have Advent calendars in abundance. Sometimes they print some for children and leave them out to be taken. Obviously, they are not in the same class as the ones with doors and a little gift each day. The idea is the same, to count the days until Christmas. Some calendars are very religious, having a Bible reading and short devotional.

  6. Never celebrated Advent, but admire the concept.

  7. Its vital to keep the spirits up, and light does that in winter, and it helps healing, amen, you can use fishing line to hang things overhead easily, just be careful,

  8. When I was growing up my mother always made an Advent calendar out of construction paper and behind each door wrote a fun activity that we had to do to get ready for Christmas. I tried to continue the tradition with my children, but I got too overwhelmed and ended up letting it go. Maybe if I have grandchildren someday I will try to resurrect it in some way. Glad you are on the mend!

  9. Sarah, that does sound like a fun and inventive way to have quality time together. Sometimes I’ve also put in a small card with an activity to do together, but this year our energies have gone elsewhere, so we’ll just be glad for a quiet Christmas season!

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