I have NEVER EVER had an Advent Calendar. Really, never. Not even one. I grew up in the country where (until I was 9) it was prohibited to celebrate Christmas. Somehow, our family celebrated anyway, but in secret. Without gifts. Politicians wanted us to exchange gifts during the New Year celebration.
When country regained independence we could again celebrate Christmas. And we did. Like our ancestors used to do it – celebrating Solar Solstice when the Sun would make the days grow longer again.
That meant, we, kids, would dress up in whatever costumes one could master at home. Then we would gather, agree what folk songs we would sing (teach each other very fast), and decide which one of us would carry The Basket. We would then go around the village and ring the door bells. When the door was opened, we would enter and sing those folk songs. People would sing along. We were also dragging a big piece of wood with us, that we would roll around the home of hosts to take away from them all the bad luck they could have had there. And then we would be given treats. Some of people whom we had visited dressed up as well and joined us. Our crowd kept growing from home to home. And so we would go on, searching for next
victims hosts to torture (so they would feed us) entertain and bring joy to. Late in the night, we would burn that big piece of wood so that all the bad luck and evil would be gone for good, then we shared the content of the Big Basket among ourselves and went home. Happy, satisfied and thinking how much fun it had been.
Some years passed and God was again legal in my country, so was Christian Christmas tradition. The traditions of our ancestors remained alive as well. Somehow, both of those contradictory traditions managed to coexist peacefully, for good.
However, I think I learned about the existence of Advent Calendar only after I was 20. Still, I never had one.
This year I have spent a lot of inspiring time craft-surfing Internet where I have seen many wonderful ideas about Advent Calendars. It finally occurred to me that this is The Year When There Finally Gonna Be Advent Calendar in my home.
Among all the great online inspirations these three blogs inspired me to have Advent Calendar with photos: deliacreates.blogspot.com and Mike from bluevelvetchair.blogspot.com. Seeing Nina´s post about her cards on her blog blog.stylizimo.com gave me some ideas that I could decorate my photos with embroidering.
This is the result of those combined inspirations:
Here is what I did to create the Advent Calendar that you can see on the above pictures.
I took the huge golden frame that we had. I used golden acrylic paint to draw the numbers on the envelopes. Then I dug out the wooden pegs, as well as pieces of brown and cream lace ribbons from my thrift store visits. I selected the best moments that were captured on our photos from year 2011, and got them printed out. Finally, I used a big marker to write on almost every photo a note, then roughly embroidered pictures with golden thread.
When my husband came home, he helped me to put up three lines of ropes inside the frame. Then we fixed the envelopes with pegs on the ropes, and wrapped a garland of Christmas lights around it.
This calendar hangs right next to our dining table, so we can enjoy those wonderful moments of 2011 every morning and evening. This year I am the one who knows the contents of envelopes, while my husband discovers them one per day. And I am as surprised as he is when he takes out the photo of the day, because I have already forgotten what I had put in. It has been such a rich and adventurous year, full of many discoveries, lessons and blessings. And next year I will put our Advent Calendar up timely :-)
What are your Christmas stories?