And Lo! an Advent Calendar was purchased for the children residing in Chateau L, a fancy-ass pop-up book Advent Calendar, and one utterly bereft of chocolate. And so it came to pass that a couple of days ago, the third-born child didst open the door marked "1". And there was much rejoicing.
"Oh look Daddy, it's a book."
OK, perhaps not that much rejoicing. In fact there was something approaching downright apathy. In the absence of chocolate, the greatest Advent Calendar desires of children are generally crackers, yule logs, jolly Santas and Christmas-themed penguins. Not books. But - and although the child in question was completely unaware of the significance - this was no ordinary book. No, if you looked closely there ran the following inscription. Holy Bible. Rubbish. That's no way to start an Advent Calendar is it? Suck them in, make them eager for number two!? Well, only perhaps in the sense than it cannot possibly be more boring.
Yesterday came, the second-born's moment had arrived.
"Daddy, it's a man banging a table." This statement had a certain air of finality about it, and indeed there was little opportunity for follow-up.
"Err, yes, so it is."
Whilst my religious knowledge is negligible, stemming mainly from a complete lack of interest, a closer inspection confirmed that this latter-day iconography of Man Banging Table was probably Joseph the Carpenter. I didn't bother attempting to explain, as subsequent days could very easily surpass my knowledge of the Christmas Story. Whaddya mean there are no penguins??!
Nonetheless, there are perverse and highly cynical feelings of intrigue circulating amongst the older residents of Chateau L as to what gems of quasi-fact further days may bring. Might we, for instance, get the full heavenly host and the immaculate conception? Or just the Donkey? Or perhaps a crude mixture of the two, the Mary that we never knew about? We can but hope. I can't fault the design, it's pretty cool. But the message? Come on! Christmas is about gazillions of presents, excessive materiality, and the gross consumption of food and alcoholic beverages - everybody knows that. Anything else is pure heresy.