I recently realized how insane my mother was this time of the year. Not only did she normally take on the choreography and cooking of Thanksgiving, but she also started a tradition of putting together advent calendars for my brother, myself and all of our cousins. We don’t have a huge family, but I had 6 cousins on each side. So we’re talking 14 advent calendars. If you like math, which I do, 14 kids x 25 days = 350 items.
If that doesn’t seem crazy to you, then let me explain what I went through the weekend before last shopping for Jack and his ONE-AND-ONLY-COUSIN.
First off, shopping is dumb. I like shopping sometimes, but shopping with other people around drives me bonkers. And to keep costs down on buying 50 small items I spent a good amount of time in the $1 Christmas crap aisle at the store.
Thank god Jack and Bella are at the age where most of the stuff for $1 would be cool to them. Pretty sure this advent calendar thing is going to wear out when they get to the age where smurf chapstick and a bottle of bubbles stops being exciting. Or the advent calendar will have to just convert to every day being Reese’s Trees (effing delicious FYI) day.
So anyway, picture me in a store with other people, trying to look at rows and rows of $1 shit and trying to think “mmmkay 25 girl things, 25 boy things….what things can I get one of and split between them?….do 2.5 year olds need their own bottle of hand sanitizer? Nail polish is probably a bad idea. Chapstick yes, lipstick no – what are we raising whores?”
I would grab 4 things for Bella and then 7 for Jack and then lose track of where I was. It was a mess. So anyway imagine that times 7 for what my mom was doing every year. What a mess!
Oh and after the shopping is done, it isn’t over. No, she would wrap a lot of that shit individually and, depending on the year, package it for each kid. I remember her making boxes where she would attach each item to a ribbon. Then you’d pull until that day’s present came out. Then one year, she wised up and made all of us permanent advent calendars out of fabric. Which probably made each year after that easier, but I imagine her sewing 14 fucking advent calendars and wanting to murder all of us.
I also recall that she would put together craft packages (probably Martha’s fault) where a few times during the month we would make something. Like a reindeer out of a candy cane, or a paper santa with a cotton ball hat brim and end. Perhaps this woman should have been committed?
Also she had to pull all of this off BEFORE Thanksgiving so she could put it in the mail to all the cousins.
I decided I would learn from her and go straight for the cloth advent calendar for Bella. Jack has been using mine (thanks mom!) and I actually have my brother’s (shhhh don’t tell him) so Baby Dos won’t need one either. Over the last week I have sewed and puff painted and, honestly it has been great. I feel closer to my mom for the realz and super appreciative of the magic she created for us every year.
Yesterday I parked Jack in front of the TV downstairs (YAY for parenting!) and pulled out my secret bags of advent crap so I could wrap them without his “help”. Andy made the grave mistake of saying “you know considering you are not religious, isn’t it ridiculous that you are putting together advent calendars?”. Good thing I was feeling all lovey and close to my mom and just let that one slide on by. Boys really don’t get it.
I was going to label each day, but then I realized what a pain in the ass that would be for her parents to hunt through the bag for the right day. Sure one could stuff her entire advent calendar ahead of time, but knowing how I was as a child, I would have opened that shit all at once, especially at 2.5 years old.
Jack’s cartoon ended before I could finish wrapping all of his presents. And he came upstairs asking ‘Oooo what is this? Is this my presents?’ and trying to open things. Relaxed Natalie had to tell Control Freak Natalie that it was no big deal if he saw some of his stuff. He’d forget about it all in about 5 minutes.
Anyway, Bella’s stuff is almost ready to go. I just have one last thing to finish on the calendar itself and then I have to package that shit up and mail it….in the next three days!
I e-mailed my sister-in-law to tell her she was only allowed to have 2 children otherwise there would be no advent calendars for them. My mom could maybe handle 14 kids, but I sure as hell can’t imagine doing this for more than 4 or 5. Even that feels impossible and I might have to go to the “send their parents $50 and tell them to shop for the fillers” tactic.