top of page

Advent Calendar

A few days ago, after receiving a call from my daughter, I realized that I had completely forgotten to put up our family’s advent calendar. Many years ago, when Sakura and Haru were still in lower school, we made a trip to our local Target store and discovered a plain-looking wooden, Christmas tree-shaped advent calendar sitting on the sale shelf. We agreed that with some work, we could create something special and unique from this seemingly bland object.

My childhood with my parents and younger brother in a small house in Japan was nearly devoid of any Christmas festivities. This was not necessarily because we could not afford it, but rather more that the American traditions surrounding December holidays had yet to permeate Japanese culture. The Japanese place much more emphasis on New Year than on scenes of glamorously decorated trees, beautifully wrapped gifts, and decorated cakes that were so often depicted on posters and television. What I do remember is that we could not fit a Christmas tree in our cramped house and so my parents hid the presents on top of the fridge in hopes that we were not yet tall enough to glimpse them. Only now as a parent myself can I understand the excitement that my own parents must have felt in preparing these small gifts for us even though at the time the gesture did not seem so significant.

As our family stood around the small, cheap advent calendar we had purchased, we were determined to make it our own. Together, we carefully and painstakingly cut out images and photos of treasured memories and references that only we could understand and overlaid them on the machine-printed numbers marking the calendar. Every year since then, when Christmas season comes around, we bring out this advent calendar and display it proudly in our living room. Perhaps what was most exciting for our children was the daily routine of opening a small door in the calendar to find, rather than my typical homemade creations, a store-bought candy that I had hidden inside (a rarity in our household and thus an uncommon treat).

This year, we started the calendar a little late, but no matter. Getting to see the simple, fleeting happiness that accompanies Haru’s (and Sakura’s; in two weeks she comes home for the holidays) mornings is, in a way, my very own advent calendar.





36 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

I'm Back


bottom of page