The Advent Calendar Follies

Actually “folly” – singular. With the beginning for real of the Xmas season, I thought I’d write down for posterity a little anecdote from my childhood. If you know me you’ve probably heard this many times before, if not, prepare to be non-plussed!

In our house we would have an Advent Calendar hung up, to allow us to count down the days before Xmas. It was usually one of the basic models, with a little card window which opened up to reveal a yuletide object or scene, culminating in a glorious depiction of the Nativity on December 24th, rendered in lifelike 4-colour halftone. The little windows were scattered around the calendar at random, so it was a little game to find the next one. A simple pleasure for a simple child. There was probably cheap glitter randomly glued to the card as well for that opulent touch. At the time of this story, my sister (the oldest sibling) had gone to college, and as my brother was 8 years older than me, I was the the youngest, and the lucky one who got to open the advent calendar window.

One year, my Mum splashed out and bought a Cadbury’s Neapolitan calendar (feel free to say, “Ooo!”). This had the added bonus of having a minature (about an inch long) bar of either Dairy Milk or Bourneville Plain chocolate behind each window. The bars were wrapped in the usual foil and a paper sleeve, just like their regular-sized counterparts. Just what made them Neapolitan is beyond me. You could also buy a dispensing machine for them, but that would have been an unthinkable extravagance.

For the first few days of December, I had the pleasure of having my breakfast, then finding the next window and being rewarded with a little slab of chocolate for the cold walk to school. Then one evening, my big brother said that it was unfair that I got all the chocolate, and announced that he would get the next one. I told him no, I would get it first! The game was on!

The next morning, I got up extra early (an achievement even then), crept downstairs, found the next little window in the calendar, took out the little chocolate bar (a Dairy Milk, if I recall correctly) and hid it carefully under the sofa. I went back to bed, then had a normal day of school, with all the misery that entailed.

When we were all at dinner later that evening, with Nationwide playing in the background, my brother looked smug and said he told me he would get the chocolate. I replied,

“But you didn’t.” (I was confused)

“Yes I did.” (So was he)

So with the family watching, I went to the sofa, looked underneath, and found the little chocolate bar right where I had hidden it. I slid off the paper sleeve, then peeled off the intact purple foil to reveal…

…a piece of Lego. A 2×4 red studded plate (element number 302021) topped with two 2×2 red flat plates (element number 306821), to be exact. Wrapped perfectly in the foil, slid back into the paper sleeve. The chocolate had obviously been scoffed long since.

How had my 8-years-older-than-me brother managed to trick me so simply? Simple. He stayed up later than my then-allowed 9:30pm. Sneaky bastard.

And that is how Simon Petty ruined Xmas forever in our family.