The countdown to Christmas is on

It's time for Advent calendars!

It's time for Advent calendars!

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TRISH TAKES FIVE: By Trish Burgess

It is December 1 today, so I think we can safely say that Christmas can now begin.

I know the shops have been stockpiling Quality Street since the summer but the proper countdown does not start until that first door is open on the advent calendar.

Of course, advent calendars have changed beyond recognition since I was a child. In the 60s and 70s, I shared a piece of flimsy, glittery card with my brother, taking turns to open the tiny doors, revealing a picture of a toy drum, bells or an angel.

No chocolates or treats behind the doors: just a very small drawing.

If you were the lucky one opening the even numbers, the double doors would open on to a nativity scene.

I remember being so excited each morning, wondering what each door would reveal. I would occasionally pick at the corner to peep, or hold it up to the light.

How I would have contained myself if there had been chocolate in the calendar, I have no idea.

Which is why it always surprised me how restrained my own son was, once advent calendars offered even more temptation for a child.

I have an old video of Rory, aged two, about to open his final door. Full of cold, sniffling and coughing, his ritual that year was to reopen the doors from the previous days and tell me what shaped chocolate had been behind each one.

“One’s a n-angel, two’s a king, free’s a nuzzer king ...” It’s adorable to watch and I clearly remember he never snaffled a chocolate before the appointed day.

Over the years, I did rather overdo it with regard to the calendars. My mum made him a beautiful quilted one when he was born: it had a little red stocking which I filled each day with a chocolate coin or sweet.

Later on, we acquired a wooden one, with small toys hidden in little boxes. When I think back, I must have been mad: one child and up to three advent calendars.

It’s a wonder we ever managed to leave for school on time, with the ritual of opening each one to be fitted into the usual morning routine.

Now Rory is at university, the advent calendars are still on show, even though he won’t be here to open them until later in December.

Do I leave them unopened so he can reveal them all on his return or treat myself to a sliver of chocolate with my morning cuppa?

It might be easier to just buy my own. I’ve noticed more adult advent calendars have made an appearance in recent years: lipsticks, nail varnish and whisky to be found on each day.

I’m sorely tempted to buy myself a Ginvent calendar: 24 different makes of gin from across the world.

Now that would make for a jolly Christmas: ho ho hic.