There are many grand Christmas traditions in this house. No decorations go up before the 1st of December, for example. I get way too excited about putting icicle lights on the deck railings. Mince pies become a vital food group.
And I always leave my Christmas calendar until the very last minute.
But let’s backtrack a little first.
What’s this calendar business all about?
I made my first calendar back in 2015 from a combination of necessity, frustration and a collection of photographs from my various adventures. You can read all about it in The Calendar in the Bathroom.
Later that year, I decided the only way to save my sanity at Christmas was to stay out of shopping centres and make all of my presents. And since not everyone wants a crocheted coat-hanger or a pair of hand-knitted socks, I realised I needed to make use of my photographic skills instead. It made sense, given I’d be making a calendar anyway because our bathroom always needs a calendar. It’s the rule.
The best part about the whole process is that the calendars aren’t just a gift: they also act like a little photobook of my adventures from the year before. I keep them on my bookshelf next to my actual photobooks and I often pull them down for a bit of nostalgia.
It’s weird how memory works. When I first hang my calendar, I feel a little wistful that I made it and therefore know what picture is going to be displayed each month.
“I wish it would come as a surprise,” I might mutter to myself (because talking to yourself in the bathroom is always a fabulous idea). “But no, I remember each and every month from making the calendar just a few weeks ago.”
Then we get to February and I turn the page over in anticipation because I can’t for the life of me remember what images I’ve even used for the entire thing.
I rarely even remember the image I choose for June, and that’s generally my favourite image out of the lot, as June is my birthday month. More often than not, I’ll get to June and wonder why on earth my past self liked that image so much. I wonder which one I chose for this year? (And there’s the magic of the calendar at work: I literally cannot think which photo I used for June and the calendar’s only been up for a few days.)
Some years, I have to scrabble for images to use in my calendar; this year, I had a shortlist of forty images and I had trouble cutting them down. It was a fabulous problem to have! And even though I had folders full of photos from my adventures and could have started compiling the calendar in November, what did I do?
I left it until a bare week before Christmas day, of course. Once again, as in every other year, I selected express postage for my order and crossed my fingers that the estimated delivery date was correct.
Fortunately for me, the calendars arrived in record time and I managed to retrieve them from the box before the cats took full possession.
Next time, I won’t wait until the last minute. Next time, I’ll have my shortlist ready before the shops are playing Christmas carols (so some time in September). Next time, I’m going to break with tradition and you won’t find me camped out by the letterbox on Christmas Eve, desperately hoping my calendars will arrive any time soon.
Do you make your own presents at Christmas? Or do you have a tradition you wish you could banish forever? Let me know in the comments below!