A Literary Advent Calendar

literary advent calendar

There are many things I real­ly miss about par­ent­ing lit­tle ones. Read­ing togeth­er is prob­a­bly the thing I miss the most, how­ev­er. We spent a lot of time on the couch read­ing when our kids were lit­tle. And a lot of time dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son. Dar­ling Daugh­ter and #1 Son are pret­ty well grown up now, how­ev­er, and I’m left with sev­er­al book­shelf feet of Christ­mas books.

This year, I decid­ed to do a spe­cial advent cal­en­dar for them. Each day of advent there was a Christ­masy quote from lit­er­a­ture, heavy on our Christ­mas pic­ture books. And choco­lates. I told them they could work togeth­er across the miles between Min­neapo­lis and Boston to iden­ti­fy the book and then eat the choco­late as their prize.

Who is com­ing to our house?”

Some­one, some­one,” says mouse.

And to their mother’s great delight, they’ve done just that. Only occa­sion­al­ly clar­i­fy­ing with me or googling to jog their memory.

I sin­cere­ly hope your Christ­mas in Hert­ford­shire may abound
in the gai­eties which that sea­son gen­er­al­ly brings.”

There’s been a lot of remem­ber­ing of illus­tra­tions or plot, but not the name of the book. Dar­ling Daugh­ter thinks there was only one she couldn’t imme­di­ate­ly pic­ture. #1 Son said there have a been a few he just had no idea. (He’s had more Christ­mases with­out perus­ing the Christ­mas pic­ture book col­lec­tion than his younger sis­ter.) I jok­ing­ly said I hoped he denied him­self the choco­late on those days. “Yeah, burned it as penance,” he said.

He mut­tered to him­self: “My joints. My gout. My sciatica.”

Aloud he said grand­ly: “Give me your gift.”

#1 Son’s girl­friend — a read­er as a child and adult — said it was more dif­fi­cult not hav­ing grown up with the game creator…but she’s named her fair share, I think.

Hey! Unto you a child is born!” she hollered, 

as if it was, for sure, the best news in the world.

I can’t tell you how much fun this was to put togeth­er. A stack of books by the fire, find­ing just the right quotes, tiny slips of paper hold­ing cozy book mem­o­ries. Even if the kids had hat­ed the whole thing it would’ve been total­ly worth it. I asked them if it was fun or one of those things that Mom thought up that was just a bit much.

I’m hav­ing fun,” said #1 Son.

Very fun!” came the reply from Dar­ling Daugh­ter. “One of things I’ve missed most about Decem­ber since mov­ing to col­lege is all the Christ­mas books at home. It’s been fun to rem­i­nisce on the sto­ries from afar.”

Jonathan sat down in his rock­ing chair and held the pic­ture against his chest. He rocked slow­ly, his eyes closed. Two tears trailed into his beard. When he final­ly took the pic­ture to his work­bench and began to carve, his fin­gers worked quick­ly and sure­ly. He carved all through the night.

My hus­band and I have been read­ing through the quotes one-at-a-time at din­ner, as well. I know the sources, of course, but it’s fun to watch him try to pull a fuzzy mem­o­ry of a beloved pic­ture book we read every sin­gle night dur­ing advent 20 years ago.

The joy fac­tor for this Red Read­ing Boots mama has been high this year.

Hap­py Christ­mas to all, and to all a good night!

the books, in order by quote

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Deb Bigley
Deb Bigley
1 year ago

I love every­thing about this! Thanks for shar­ing! May very well give this a try myself❤️

Brenda Sederberg
Brenda Sederberg
1 year ago

Love this! I think my 30 year old chil­dren would like it?!

Laura Purdie Salas
Laura Purdie Salas
1 year ago

What a beau­ti­ful idea! We were with our old­er daugh­ter at a church hol­i­day craft fair recent­ly, and some­body was sell­ing the exact same Christ­mas fab­ric books I made when the girls were lit­tle. We usu­al­ly read a sto­ry nightly…but not nec­es­sar­i­ly the same ones every year. Your arti­cle brought forth so many good mem­o­ries (except for not mem­o­ries of the titles of the actu­al books we read!).