2743 Advent

The time between Sinterklaas and Christmas was a bare affair in my earliest childhood. We were quite strict and a Christmas tree was not allowed. My mother only bought some loose fir pine twigs that I could put behind the paintings in the front and back room. And we had a candlestick with a candle that we were allowed to light every now and then. We sang Silent Night at the piano.

In the mid-sixties we got our first real Christmas tree. My father had received discarded Christmas decorations and candle holders for real candles from a colleague and so the tree followed. The candles could only be lit if someone stayed with it and there was always a bucket of water next to the tree.
Then came the first electric candles, which became smaller and smaller over the years and increased in number and the rest is history. A box with two hundred lights for a few euros is nothing these days.
In recent years, the Advent season seems to have exploded in our faces. Not only because of the endlessly whining Làààst Christmas on the Sonos, but also because of our fourteen-year-old daughter Piep and her passion for advent calendars. We now have three on the mantelpiece, one for Lief and two for herself. The cats also have their own advent calendar.

“Daddy, would you like an advent calendar too?” she asked me a few weeks ago. ‘No,’ I said truthfully, ‘I don’t care about that.’ She looked at me and let it rest. Time passed slowly until last night she came down the stairs and yelled, “Daddy, close your eyes!” I sat on the couch watching football but closed my eyes. “Put your hands out!” She laid a large tray on it. I opened my eyes and the gold sparkled at me. On a snow-white plain stood 24 numbered golden houses, the size of those of the KLM Frequent Flyers. It looked like Jerusalem, or a sweet town on the Gouwzee. I was completely surprised and very moved. We hugged. The season of Advent has never started so beautifully.
Ate Vegter, December 3, 2022



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