Advent activity #1

We’re starting with a task that you have already accomplished just by being here:

DAY 1: START ADVENT CALENDAR. I have two real-life advent calendars this year; a Nicolas Cage one and a cheese one which has to be kept in the fridge door, taking up valuable Champagne space:

Totally worth it though:

I have already eaten the cheese as a mid-morning snack, which is why a cheese calendar is better than a beer calendar, because you can only really have beer for breakfast at the weekend. (There is a beer advent calendar in our house too but it’s not mine and it’s not pretty so I’m not including a photo.)

I looked for an advent-specific pop song to set us on our musical way but the only recent-ish one I could find was by R. Kelly, which didn’t seem to hit the right tone, so instead here is a lovely arrangement of a traditional song by Marty Haugen, whom Wikipedia describes as a “liturgical composer”, which sounds like a great job.

Comfort with an optional side of joy

I mean, obviously if I’d had an inkling of what 2020 had in store for us I wouldn’t have wasted Sad Christmas on 2014 or Good News Stories on 2019, both of which were, relatively speaking and in retrospect, perfectly reasonable years. But alas I am no Dominic Cummings so instead of going back to edit an old blog post to make it look as though I predicted the pandemic, I merely acknowledge that if there was ever a year that made it hard to raise the requisite cheer for a musical advent calendar, 2020 is emphatically it.

BUT, wouldn’t it all be even worse without Christmas? Christmas will be different this year; for some of us in small ways, for others in heartbreakingly big ones. But I suspect the reason that so many people’s decorations are already up in November (I walked around Blackheath yesterday and even the middle-class millionaires all had their trees lit) is that we are all craving a little bit of normality, a little bit of love and light and indulgence, even if it’s just a hint of a hope of what we were expecting.

Personally I have embraced making Christmas last for twice as long this year by breaking out the pigs in blankets well over a month too early and ordering two Christmas crates of wine, so that we can drink the first one before the holidays even start. And in that spirit I bring you this year’s calendar, which has been designed not by me, but by my six-nearly-seven-year-old niece Edie, who has crafted an activity advent calendar, with a different Christmassy thing to do every day. We will be following Edie’s advice daily, starting tomorrow.

There will also be music, of course, but in a year when so many of our dreams, hopes and expectations have been trashed, let’s share some miniature Christmassy moments, however near or far away we are from our loved ones.

Advent calendar for 2011

Forgive my prolonged absence. I’ve been busy getting married, among other things. Also, I always get lazy about blogging in November in the knowledge that when December comes I’ll be posting at least once a day. Yes, it’s time for the annual Gladallover musical advent calendar!

I ran out of good Christmas songs two years ago, so last year I changed the format and did a 24-day countdown of the best Christmas number ones from my lifetime. This year I needed a brand new idea, so a few weeks ago I asked my friends on Twitter and Facebook to nominate their favourite Christmas songs. I got quite a lot more than 24 replies, so I have whittled them down to my 24 favourites (songs, not people), and this year each day’s entry will be a song chosen by someone I know from either Twitter or Facebook, with a note on the song from me and also, to make it more interesting, a bit about the person who nominated it. Some of the people who chose songs are related to me, others I know in real life and some I don’t know at all.  But I promise to be nice about everyone. After all, it’s Christmas.

See you back here on Thursday x

Another advent calendar

Radio 4’s Today programme also has an online advent calendar, with each day’s offering an “audio treat” from the past eleven months of early morning broadcasting.  Although as I write it’s after 7pm and today’s entry isn’t available yet.  But I mainly want to draw it to your attention because it will almost certainly feature the moment several months ago when Charlotte Green suffered a fit of the giggles whilst announcing the news of a death, and if you haven’t heard it already you really ought to.

You’ll be delighted to hear that I eventually found a real-life advent calendar which didn’t feature chocolates, although it is a bit godly.  But I suppose that’s forgiveable.  It’s from Oxfam – are they to do with god?  I can never remember.