x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Self-denial on the Advent calendar front

It was with a slight shock that I realised a few days back that December 1 had rolled merrily by, and I had not marked it by tearing open an Advent calendar window.

Now I accept that in admitting this, I risk sounding a touch spoilt. I shall plough on regardless, though.

It was with a slight shock that I realised a few days back that December 1 had rolled merrily by, and I had not marked it by tearing open an Advent calendar window. This is the only year of my life - that I can remember - when I haven't begun each December morning with a tiny morsel of festive chocolate. Best savoured in bed, before you have to brave the cold and get dressed for the day. Alas, this year, I am without such treats.

Advent calendars are not, of course, the only way to mark off the days in the month before Christmas. Advent candles, as I discovered a few years back, require serious dedication. If you light one, and then become engrossed in an hour-long television programme, suddenly the candle's telling you that it's the 19th of the month, and you're pretty sure that when Cold Feet started it was only the 11th. A reason for vigilance if there ever was one.

I encountered a similar lack of success with the Advent book - an excellent idea in theory, it just didn't pan out so well in practice. You are supposed to read a chapter a day, reaching the conclusion on the 24th. Unfortunately, true to impatient form, I become a little too involved in the fictional action after day three, and ended up finishing the book that evening.

My lack of success with all things Advent began early, when an audaciously cunning plan was foiled by my parents. Sneaking into my younger sister's bedroom, I carefully opened her Cadbury's calendar, and painstakingly removed the all-important inner sleeve, wherein lies the chocolate bounty. I resealed the calendar, chuckling away to myself, convinced that the blame would be placed on the manufacturer for producing a dud calendar.

In hindsight, stashing the half eaten evidence under my pillow, in a rather warm, centrally heated house, probably wasn't the wisest of moves, but we all make careless mistakes when we're young.

So this year, perhaps it's best if I just go without. I do seem to have had my fill of Advent presents after all. And yet, should I be meandering down a supermarket aisle any time soon, and happen to spot a calendar in the reduced pile, I can't promise that it won't find its way into my trolley. Imagine - I'd have nine or 10 days of chocolates to catch up on...