Monday, December 03, 2012

The Great Advent Calendar Hunt

Advent Calendar - A calendar that counts down the days until Christmas, usually with a little treat hidden behind doors that are opened each day beginning December 1st until December 24th.

I felt the need to explain this, because what I've found out over the past couple of days is that many people have no idea what an advent calendar is.

Every year, since I was a little girl, the advent calendar was an important part of my Christmas traditions.  My brothers and I would get so excited every December 1st to be able to open that first door and eat the little piece of chocolate that awaited us inside...and every day after until Christmas Eve.  That tradition stopped, for a while, after moving to the States because it was dang near impossible to find advent calendars.  Those years, minus advent calendars, just weren't the same.  Sure, we had fantastic Christmases, but the days leading up to Christmas weren't filled with the small morsel of excitement and joy that we'd grown accustomed to have while growing up.

Several years ago, shortly after Peanut and Butter were born, I started seeing advent calendars popping up here and there in various stores.  It was a Christmas jackpot.  I was able to share the stories of opening up advent calendars when I was younger, and beginning the tradition with my own children.

Every year, I have taken on the mission of hunting down a store that sells advent calendars.  A couple of times I found them in Wal-Mart, but then they stopped carrying them.  Could never find them in the grocery stores or dollar stores.  After Wal-Mart quit carrying them, I'd have to hunt them down in specialty stores or order them online.  I found a store that carried them about an hour and half drive from us, and I'd happily make that drive just to buy the calendars.  Last year, however, I finally found a store that carried them right in my neck of the woods.  Although, for the life of me, I couldn't remember which store it was this year.

On Saturday, on our trip home from the zoo, panic struck when I realized I hadn't bought the kids their advent calendars.  I started racking my brain trying to remember which store I had found them in.  First, we went to the Dollar Tree.  Nothing there.  I then stood in the parking lot calling every store in town - Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Dollar General, Family Dollar, Atwoods...trying to find them.  Each store I called offered me the same response:  "What's an advent calendar?"  I'm pretty sure the guy I talked to at Atwoods thought I was prank calling him because he didn't sound amused when I tried to explain exactly what it was I was looking for.  

After several phone calls, I finally admitted defeat and decided to head home.  It was as we were driving by Aldi's that my brain finally declogged - and I realized it was Aldi's last year where I had found the advent calendars.  I made Hubby pull in and I ran in the store.

I started frantically looking around, but couldn't see them anywhere.  I flagged down an associate and asked her, suspecting she'd be another person to look at me with a look of confusion on her face.  She didn't!  She knew exactly what I was talking about - and led me to the area they were kept.  Christmas was going to stay in full tradition mode - I was going to be OK!  That was, until we got to the area they were kept... and found that they were all gone.  Dang it!

It amazes me that living in an area that seems pretty oblivious to the concept of advent calendars, they sell like hot cakes.

I walked the slow walk back out to the car to meet the disappointed faces of my three children.  It was a quiet ride back home.

Yesterday, Hubby and I had to go out and do our weekly grocery shopping.  I knew that there was another Aldi's in a nearby town, so without saying anything to the kids, I made Hubby take me there.  I went in expecting to find another empty display.  I looked and looked and looked some more - nada.  There were tons of neat Christmas candies, but no advent calendars in sight.  An associate, apparently seeing the look of desperation on my face, stopped to ask me what I was looking for.  I told her I was looking for advent calendars and with a smile on her face she said "come with me".

For a split second, and call me crazy, I felt like I was being led off to a secret workshop.  Some kind of weird Christmas movie where I had been frantically searching for a part of our Christmas traditions to finally find a Christmas helper who would magically make them appear in front of me.  And then, just as that crazy scenario played out in my head, there they were.  A small, lonely box, sitting at the front of the store nestled among empty boxes, with five advent calendars left in it.  I grabbed three and hugged them as if they were a long lost child.

I thanked the associate profusely, and the look on her face - and probably on mine - told her that she had been apart of a small Christmas miracle.  I would never have seen them if she hadn't of taken the time to ask me what I was looking for. 

Getting home from shopping yesterday, I was able to deliver to my children their advent calendars... and the excitement wasn't one sided.  Jelly squealed with excitement when she saw them in the trunk.  Peanut and Butter ran around looking for pens so that they could write their names on their calendar.  Opening up not one but two windows on the calendar was an added bonus.

Yesterday really made me think about how important the Christmas traditions are in our house.  To some, it may seem a little silly, but to us?  Counting down the days until Christmas is apart of Christmas in it's self.

Now the next 22 days can go by - quickly I hope - with growing anticipation for the big day.


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