Josie's next Writing Workshop is up. I spent some time musing about which of the topics to do, before it occurred to me that the one paragraph I had so far managed to write in what was supposed to be the belated post about Christmas was, in fact, a perfectly adequate beginning for topic no. 3: What are you guilty of viewing through rose-coloured spectacles?
I'm not much of one for pontificating about how much better things were back in the good old days when I were a lass, but the one major exception to this is (are?) advent calendars. In my childhood, I used to shop happily for calendars picturing detailed scenes in snowy villages or Santa's workshop that my childhood imagination could spin stories around, with each window revealing a picture that would become a jumping-off point for further installments in the story. These days, seems like all you can get in the local shops are the kind with chocolate in. If I want to eat chocolate, I'll eat it – none of this messing around with one tiny morsel per day, thank you.
My all-time favourite advent calendar, by the way, was one that had dials on it instead of windows – each day, you turned the dials another notch to reveal the next thing on them. There were multiple dials – for the date, the picture, and for lists of things to do each day to prepare for Christmas. I adored this, and looked out eagerly for another one the next year, and in subsequent years; but I never saw its like again. After some years of failing to find this type it occurred to me to wonder seriously if – forget rose-coloured glasses – I had actually dreamed the whole calendar in its entirety. I still wonder that to this day, so, if anyone out there remembers such a calendar from circa late '70s or early '80s, could they please let me know so that I know it wasn't just my vivid imagination?
So. That aside, am I viewing my childhood advent calendars through rose-coloured glasses? Were those snowy village scenes and hard-working elves actually less adorably detailed and enticing to the imagination than my memory suggests? Were the pictures revealed by the opening of each window really so much better than the dull and uninspiring images of ornaments and ice skates in the advent calendar I had last month?
The answer to the latter is quite possibly 'Yes', if only on the basis that, really, how interesting can you make a picture that has to fit in approximately half an inch squared of space? Especially when you have to produce 24 or 25 of the blighters (come to think of it, that's one thing that I know objectively has changed – it used to be possible to get advent calendars with a window for Christmas Day. I know this because it was one of my criteria – I insisted on getting my (parents') money's worth out of my advent calendar) and then mass-produce them to be sold for a few quid each? In all fairness, the pictures in the windows most likely really weren't quite as exciting as I remember, and my imagination probably filled in the gap. The pictures on the front? Even after the most meticulous examination of my metaphorical lenses for any hint of pink, I know I remember pictures that were better than anything I can find today; but maybe they were the exception to the rule, not the yearly occurrence I fondly recall.
You know what? I've just realised I may be able to check. My mother is currently having the All-Time Massive Clearout of the attic prepatory to turning it into an extra bedroom, and I bet you there are at least some old advent calendars lurking in one of the twenty million boxes she currently has filling her house. So, Mom – if you do come across any (that you haven't yet consigned to the dustbin of history), do please save them for me to see. Have I developed rose-coloured glasses on this subject? Is that the ironic follow-up to my childhood history of not being allowed to order pink spectacle frames because you thought they made me look like Matthew Rabbit?1 I look forward to finding out.
1. This was, I should add, absolutely the correct decision on my mother's part. The literal rose-coloured glasses provided by the NHS in the '70s are one thing that I am certainly not viewing through metaphorical rose-coloured glasses. They really were quite hideous.
The other posts for the Writing Workshop are now listed here. Please go and check them out and leave your comments!