When I was a child, I loved opening my Advent calendar each day. There it sat, a wonderfully rich and intricate picture, with numbers well hidden in the folds of Mary’s skirt or the arch of an angel’s wing. Once I found the day’s window, I would prise it open ever so carefully, so as not to loose a bit of the glitter and gilt, and then I would peer at the tiny new picture inside.
Now, I’m as fond of chocolate as the next person, but modern Advent calendars with their daily dose of dairymilk simply do not compare to the glittery memories of childhood. So I found myself wondering: what does my goddaughter make of her ‘High School Musical’ Advent calendar. Any disappointment I felt on seeing the cardboard box printed with a not-very-exciting photo had to be held in check by the knowledge that I had failed to send her an Advent calendar myself — and the equally lamentable sense that I dare not send her an Advent calendar for fear that the sort of Advent calendar I would choose would not interest her at all.
I spent a few days ignoring the calendar: aware of her daily journey for chocolate, not wanting to intervene.
I paid more attention to her letter to Santa, which had some modest (and not so modest) requests, and then a curious promise to leave Santa a five pound note. I didn’t understand, and I didn’t find the chance to ask, till her mother explained that god-daughter was adamant that the £5 note in her piggy bank not be touched: she wanted to give it to Santa so that he could get presents for the children who were poor.
She came up with this on her own, and is sticking by it.
So it made me think again: what does a High School Musical calendar mean to a seven year old? It would easy to assume that she is a victim of commercialism and chocolate-bribery. But I doubt it. She is too smart for that. So perhaps it is about dreams: Gabriella as role model, singing her way into happiness as she refuses to be boxed in by her intelligence and other people’s expectations of her. Hopes and dreams and visions about the start of a new way of life.
I’m glad that her mother knows better than I do and got her a calendar that would speak the truth of Christmas.