Last year we had been given a rather cool, but empty, Advent calendar, which I then filled with various activities. Marie was in Costa Rica until a few days before Christmas and read along on my blog, but as she didn't get to participate in most of it, said that this year, she would do the calendar. Perhaps she was joking, but when I brought it up with her this year, she said yes, she would like to.
However, she didn't use the one from last year, rather, she made a new one:
Since the first Sunday in Advent was November 30th, Marie decided to confuse me for the entire month, by numbering days in Advent rather than days of December. So number 1 is November 30th, number 2 is December 1st, number 3 is December 2nd, etc. The 25 is for the 24th and there isn't one for the 25th, because, as she pointed out, it's always crazy and rushed anyway. (It wasn't when we lived in Germany, because Germans celebrate on the 24th, so we had the 25th to ourselves. Here, there's a church service on the 25th at 10:00 a.m., and none of my children get up ridiculously early in the morning, so we don't usually manage to even open all of our presents before church!)
Day one, Sunday, November 30th
I didn't get a photo of Elisabeth opening it, but this was when we discovered that Marie had put "clues" in each little box, rather than straightforward notes. We'd already set up the Advent wreath the day before, so this one was for lighting the first candle. Elisabeth then glued the clue onto a piece of paper we hung up under the calendar, on one of the kitchen doors:
And this was lunch time, the meal at which we had the most people home at once. We never have breakfast together anyway (well, except for Easter Sunday), and we were at friends' for dinner. Lukas and Marie are rarely home for lunch on Sunday (and for that matter, Jörn and anywhere from one to three of the little girls often aren't, either), so this was unusual in that everyone except for Jacob was home:
Day two, Monday, December 1st
This clue was the pattern Marie had made a couple of years ago for a Nativity scene she had cross-stitched for us:
Some blurry photos of setting up the Nativity scenes:
Day three, Tuesday, December 2nd
Katie opened this picture:
However, I didn't manage any photos of me making or us drinking hot chocolate, and I even cheated and didn't take the photo of the note until today...
Day four, Wednesday, December 3rd
The little note that Lukas opened got lost before it could be glued on the paper, and no photos were taken of the activity, but it's been my favorite one so far: everyone had to say something nice about everyone else. Certain people got rather silly, but the little girls were unexpectedly serious and it was quite moving.
Day five, Thursday, December 4th
Day six, Friday, December 5th
Marie had opened day five, because Jacob hadn't been home, so Jacob opened day six. Here's the clue:
However, we didn't play then, because it had been opened in a five-minute window when everyone was home at the same time, and then Jacob left. We ended up playing Saturday afternoon, with everyone except for Marie. And, once again, no photos.
Day seven, Saturday, December 6th
We all expected chocolate Nikolauses (or Nikoläuse, as we like to say, applying the Germany plural incorrectly to a proper noun :-) ), and were not disappointed. However, Marie had added fun to chocolate, and sent us all out of the kitchen for a few minutes before we could start. This was my day to open it, and inside the pocket was only a note saying "Which day did Helen open?" When I looked inside day two, I found a chocolate Nikolaus with a name taped to it and a clue on the back. I gave that Nikolaus (sorry, I refuse to say Santa--the whole Santa Claus tradition is SUCH a corrupted version of who the historical figure or figures of Nikolaus was/were, that although I'm well aware of the origins, I won't call them the same thing) to that person, who had to follow the clue to find another Nikolaus to give to another person, etc.
I don't have any of the notes (12 of them, as a family of four was visiting for lunch and Marie had incorporated them) and didn't take any photos and can't remember all the clues, but we had a lot of fun. The clues weren't just random--they were personalized for the people who had to look for them. The one for Jacob, for example, said something like "Have your late-night fry-feasts before midnight next time!" and Jacob then found the next one in a frying pan in the cupboard. Helen's said, "Do the cats need to be fed?" and it was behind the cat food, Lukas's was "You need to clean your shirt" and was found on the washing machine, and Elisabeth's was "Look under your chair."
I'll try to take more photos this next week...