Sunday, November 19, 2017

Here comes Advent -- and it's gonna be expensive.

Today, I spent $150 on an Advent calendar.

Not the mittens. I made those several years ago -- knitted them out of 100% acrylic yarn that I happened to have on hand. Those tiny mittens will still be around when the sun goes supernova. And they were cheap!

No, the thing I bought today is a cleverly-packaged knitting project called a Craftvent Calendar. The box has 24 drawers, and each drawer holds a thing I will need to create a knitted shawl: needles, notions, yarn, and the directions. I'm hoping the directions are in drawer number 1 -- although since the project is billed as a knit-along, the pattern will probably be parceled out in chunks over the course of the month.

The thing is, I have no business buying an Advent calendar of any sort. I'm Neopagan, as you may recall, and Advent calendars are a Christian thing. The practice began among Lutherans in the 19th century, according to Wikipedia, and the idea was to mark the passage of time between the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day and the day itself. The first commercial Advent calendars, though, marked the days from December 1 to Christmas Eve. They were cardboard and had little numbered doors that you opened each day to see a scene; the door number 24 would reveal either Jesus in the manger or Santa Claus.

Since then, the idea has morphed. Mutated. Grown into a monster. Oh sure, you can still get the cardboard variety, as well as the kind with a little piece of not-very-good chocolate behind each door. But there's more -- oh, so much more!

For less than $50, you can get a Lego Advent calendar -- and as every parent who has ever stepped on a Lego knows, they are the gift that keeps on giving. But adults have lots of less painful options. For example, the Body Shop sells an Advent calendar for $105 that features not only cosmetics, but "a feel-good action to complete every day" and, inexplicably, a bunny-eared headband. On a more serious note, Anthropologie offers a box of 24 little bottles of personal care products for $170. And booze sellers have also gotten in on the act. The Master of Malt website has been selling a Very Old & Rare Whisky Advent Calendar (in walnut or ebony -- your choice) for upwards of $11,000. I say "has been" because, alas, they are sold out.

It's gotten so bad that clergy in the U.K. are warning about the dangers of consumerism -- not just on Christmas, but while counting the days leading up to the Big Day, too.

I feel like Exhibit A. We observe Yule, which falls on the winter solstice, anywhere from the 20th to the 22nd of December. Traditional Advent calendars overshoot our holiday. In fact, I made the mittens so that we could easily adjust the countdown for the year in question.

But after the mini-tour of excess I just undertook to write this post, I'm feeling better about that Craftvent Calendar. I'd rather have a new shawl in January than a bunny-eared headband anyhow.

These moments of bloggy excess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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