I’m a lapsed everything these days.
I’ve lapsed to the point of having an atheist sticker slapped on the backside of my Toyota Yaris.
There’s no coming back from that.
Still, there are shreds of my childhood that come soaring back to me at this time of year, and I’ve learned to hold them dear: the brass angels that flew in a circle above the lighted candles and rang little bells as they passed by; the snowflake patterns we cut from folded pieces of paper and taped to the front windows of our house; the smell of spruce cuttings; the branches of bright blood-red winterberries arranged in a floor vase in our front hall.
And advent calendars.
I remember the ritual each December morning: searching for the little numbers on the little doors, lifting the flap and opening it wide to find a small surprise within.
It was part of the magic.
I saw this one in our local indie bookstore.
It’s a farm scene: red barn, two-storied farmhouse with green garlands wrapped around the porch pillars; it’s chock-a-block full of children on sleds and skis and toboggans and flying saucers (remember those?); there are wreaths hanging on doors and silos and fenceposts; there’s a cat on the porch, a dog on the steps and a squirrel in a tree; warm light pours out of all the windows.
There’s Santa in a sleigh (and his little door is No. 24, of course!).
But my favorite part is the lower right corner.
A rail fence; two cows—one Jersey, one a small Holstein—three sheep; a manger full of bright yellow hay; that trio of geese (the Magi?) parading across the drive; that bright red cardinal on the fence post.
They’re all looking in the same direction, they’re all waiting…