Greener Traditions: Ye Olde Advent Calendar & The Reading of the Christmas Books

December 1st, 2009

If the following post looks familiar to  you, it’s because it’s a lightly adapted version of post I ran almost exactly one year ago, to kick off the holiday season. I’ve updated it with photos taken this evening at home, and it’s my contribution to this week’s Green Moms Carnival on Greener Traditions, which will run Thursday over at Green Phone Booth.

With the holiday season now in full swing, it seems parents everywhere are asking, “How can I make our celebration of Christmas more meaningful? What can we do to enjoy the season and take the focus off the few minutes of gift giving on the 25th?”


Taking away the focus on crass materialism has never seemed more important, especially now when so many families are suffering in this continued deep recession.  (That’s one reason I fell out of love with Legos this year, as I blogged here).

Take Advent. Yes, Advent. Did you know we’re in the first week of Advent? Advent is a season of waiting. And in our house, the mantra is not “hurry up, rush, shop,” it’s “Slow down. Be quiet. It’s Advent.”

One of my favorite ways of marking Advent is through an Advent calendar. And yes, although we’re technically in the first week of Advent already, it’s not too late to start observing the season of Advent.

Advent calendars mark each day in December up through Christmas Day. They typically tell the story of the Nativity. Some are “permanent” calendars with little doors through which you can hide chocolates or other treats. Others are boxes with the chocolates already hidden inside. And guess what? With today being December 1, that means you get to open up the first little door today, as you see my son doing in the picture below.


This year, I decided to splurge and I actually bought one advent calendar for each of us, unlike last year, when I attempted to share one with my Darling Husband.  And yes – you can still find them. I picked this Divine Chocolate Advent Calendar up this evening  at the Whole Foods on River Road, Bethesda (although call first, they were selling fast, and there are none at Kentlands!) We love Divine Chocolate  – fair trade chocolate from Ghana. And it seems local too, since their corporate offices are right here in DC.

A few years ago, I established a family tradition of leaving the dinner table to read a Christmas story before enjoying a  piece of Advent chocolate.

And every year, I tell myself that we’ll continue the tradition of reading after dinner. Yet somehow by the time December rolls around, we’ve fallen out of the habit of reading after dinner. But it’s a great habit to pick up again each year. So join me – bring out the Christmas books, enjoy a piece of Advent chocolate (just 20 calories!) and Relax. Slow Down. It’s Advent.


Copyright OrganicMania 2009

10 Responses to “Greener Traditions: Ye Olde Advent Calendar & The Reading of the Christmas Books”

  1. marguerite manteau-rao on December 1, 2009 9:05 pm

    Hey, Lynn, good to ‘see’ you over in Buddha land . . . If only more folks learned mindfulness, the planet might be better off! Since you asked, here is a link for you: (I highly recommend, you need to set aside an hour to get through each meditation instruction)

    your old green sister turned Buddha devotee :)

    .-= marguerite manteau-rao´s last blog ..The Gift of ‘Unitasking’ =-.

  2. Lynn on December 1, 2009 9:09 pm

    Oh, how wonderful to have you commenting here again, Marguerite! But seriously, AN HOUR? Ha! I’ll need to take it up in retirement. Just kidding, but feeling very time pressed these days….There is a wonderful ashram at my CSA and I think I really should sign up for their meditation classes, also a number of people at Bethesda Green take a class together…so maybe that is the way to go…but I will definitely check out the link you sent! Thank you!

  3. Green Bean on December 1, 2009 9:55 pm

    Ohhh, this is a great tradition. I love it. And if it only sticks for a few months out of the year . . . still, how wonderful. :)
    .-= Green Bean´s last blog ..Adventures in Experimental Cooking from Scratch =-.

  4. Beth Terry on December 10, 2009 6:54 pm

    We had an Advent Calendar every year and took turns opening the little windows. We loved them. Of course, the candy inside was not Fair Trade back then. Divine Chocolate is… divine!
    .-= Beth Terry´s last blog ..Plastic-Free Organic Essence Lip Balm & Body Cream Give-Away =-.

  5. Condo Blues on December 11, 2009 10:03 am

    I didn’t have an Advent Calender growing up and it’s one Danish tradition I want to start in my home. Unfortunately I don’t remember to buy or make the Calendar until the middle of December – oops! Maybe Santa will take pity on me and give me an Advent Candle. It’s basically a candle with the days marked on the side and you burn it down to the next day until Christmas.
    .-= Condo Blues ´s last blog ..National Brownie Day is a Real Holiday? =-.

  6. Diane MacEachern on December 13, 2009 5:41 am

    We did Advent calendars when the kids were young, but lost track of the tradition when they went off to college. This year, I was talking to my daughter on the phone, and asked her whether she was getting in the holiday spirit at school. “How can I?” she said. “I don’t have my Advent calendar.” Ouch! That won’t happen again!!
    .-= Diane MacEachern´s last blog ..Energy-Efficient Lights and Eco-Friendly Candles for the Holidays =-.

  7. Mindful Momma on December 13, 2009 1:37 pm

    Love the idea of reading before devouring. My kids were each given a chocolate advent calendar a couple of years ago and I’ve kept up the tradition…but the boys just scarf the chocolate down each day without a whole lot of thought. I do still read X-mas books with my youngest son though. I don’t want him to grow up!!
    .-= Mindful Momma´s last blog ..Getting People to Care About Climate Change =-.

  8. mother earth aka karen hanrahan on December 13, 2009 10:16 pm

    we had a felt advent calendar that had us hang an ornament on it until the tree was full – it was adorable!!
    .-= mother earth aka karen hanrahan´s last blog ..The I Got Lost Barn =-.

  9. Organic and Green Mom Blog | For Some, There is Truly Sustainable Christmas Decor. And Then There’s the Rest of Us… at Organic Mania on December 19, 2009 1:15 pm

    […] why keep it up? Well, just as we have our Greener Traditions like Ye Olde Advent Calendar and the Reading of the Christmas Books, our tacky, tacky lawn has become a neighborhood tradition in our Bethesda neighborhood.  I now […]

  10. Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green on December 3, 2010 10:52 pm

    We had those calenders growing up (not fair trade though). Now we have a recycled felt one that was made by someone here in Oklahoma. You can put your own candy in it and use it every year. I LOVE it!

    Also thanks for joining in on my carnival!

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