This is going to veer dangerously close to “when I was a lad” territory but I’ll do my best to avoid it.
Oh sod it… When I was a lad the advent calendar was a rather special and magical thing. It came in all shapes and sizes – big, small, round, square, in the shape of a house, in the shape of a Christmas pud, in the shape of Father Christmas himself! It usually had glitter on it; sometimes a bit of 3D texture, but it was always, ALWAYS beautifully illustrated with a festive scenario that would make even Scrooge himself feel warm and fuzzy inside. So beautiful were these seasonal vignettes, they would be hung decoratively near the tree – a mini piece of nostalgia complementing the traditional decorations adorning the rest of the house. The doors came in different shapes and sizes too, and they were all sequestered away within the hand-drawn minutiae of the scene – every morning was like a little treasure hunt, scanning the beautifully detailed canvas of card to try to locate the next window. And when you eventually found it, there was the joy of discovering what little icon had been chosen to represent that particular December day: a stocking? An elf? A gingerbread man? Maybe, if it was the 24th, a double-door would reveal a wee representation of our Lord and Saviour himself in magical baby form.
That, my friend, is an advent calendar.
A bog-standard rectangular box with a stock picture of Ben fucking Ten wearing a Santa hat garnished with 24 windows arranged in a rigid 6 x 4 grid system each of which hides a piece of fucking foil that must be penetrated in order to obtain a moulded piece of foul-tasting chocolate IS NOT AN ADVENT CALENDAR. It’s the world’s worst box of chocolates.
There is not a sight more depressing, or more indicative of the commercial prostitution of Christmas, than a chocolate advent calendar a few days before Jesus’ birthday; a box with a licensed character on it who can only vaguely be made out between the uniformly arranged holes featuring breached vestiges of foil and a transparent plastic mould of a festive icon that can only be identified by touch.
Merry fucking Christmas.