A Revisit to My Advent Calendar Renovation

23 Days of Christmas! Today I hung our Advent calendar on the wall; it’s in a new place that doesn’t require climbing on furniture to hang the ornaments — an important consideration during the Christmas season of knee replacement recovery.

Got My Reservations 25 Days of Christmas 2013 Medium ButtonLet’s revisit last year’s post about fixing up my Advent calendar — with footnotes

One of the things that I wanted to do in retirement was to get out all my Christmas stuff and reorganize it. I also wanted to move it from its storage spot in the basement crawlspace to the garage (1) where I could access it on my timetable rather than waiting for Music Man to drag it out for me. I used to think that I had more stuff than most people, but recently several different friends posted photos on Facebook of their stacks of Christmas storage boxes. One friend said she brought 22 boxes from her storage unit, which took several trips in her car. I don’t feel so bad now. Apparently I’m not a Christmas hoarder, even if my basement says otherwise.

When I got out our Advent calendar this year, I took a quick photo with my phone of it hanging in my bathroom on the first day of December. In recent years, this seems to be the most convenient and obvious place for it, as I am reminded every morning to change the ornament on it. At my advanced age, I need every reminder I can get.

My sister-in-law made Advent calendars for family members many years ago — maybe as many as 30 years and I treasure her generous spirit and the family tradition honored by the calendar. I’ve been getting out that Advent calendar every year and doing the countdown with my kids, but I always wanted to change one little thing about it. It was designed to use very thin gold cording to hold the ornaments on the nails, but over the years they got tangled and it wasn’t easy to pop those little puppies off and on the nails.

So—- I decided to do a little project that I’ve been contemplating for “several” years, and by “several” I probably mean ten years.

I  felt that the calendar would work better with rings to replace the cords so that the ornaments dangle cleanly and are easy to take on and off. I’ve purchased those rings at least three times over the past few years, but never did the repairs. THIS YEAR, my first year of retirement, it was time to actually do this instead of talking about it.

Yet, things can never be easy, can they?

When I went to find my duffel bag full of jewelry findings and tools, it was nowhere to be seen. I had decided to use a split ring and needed my special split-ring pliers, so I ended up buying another tool. I think that’s probably my third set of those particular pliers, but who’s counting? Then while I was standing in line, I saw these beautiful red rings that would set off the red trim on the calendar. Just had to have them, so into the bag they went.

When I got home, I found that the little holes in the ornaments were too small for the red rings. I begged Music Man to pull out the drill for me and he also found a small piece of wood that I could drill against. I made each hole a little bigger, threaded the red ring through it, and then realized I didn’t need the split-ring pliers at all since I was putting the whole thing together with simple needle-nose pliers.

Am I boring you yet?

If you’re not a crafter, these stupid little details can’t be very interesting, but for those of us who are crafters, it’s important to know in advance what one needs to do the job. Obviously, I didn’t think this through very well.

The project turned out well, and although it can’t quite be termed a metamorphosis, I did finish a planned project. Now I think I need to decorate it some more — maybe a thin inner border of beads or something. I’ll have to see what’s on sale at the store. 🙂 (2)

Yet the story remains a continuing saga of stupid actions.

Somehow, I lost the chuck for the drill. (3) The one that is designed to fit perfectly into the handle. We’ve looked everywhere and cannot find it. I can sense Music Man’s annoyance under his helpful searching for the tool, but it’s just nowhere to be found.

Perhaps it’s in my missing jewelry duffel bag and I’m being punished by my Elf on the Shelf. (4)


(1) Although we got a lot done this year in the garage clean-out job, my Christmas stuff is unlikely to go the garage just yet. Insert sad face here.

(2) Maybe I’ll trim it up and maybe I won’t. It’s hard to go to the craft store when I’m not allowed to drive yet.

(3) The chuck for the drill was still missing when I used it somewhat recently. But I think it’s found again.

(4) The duffel bag is definitely found, but still has a cute red necklace in it that I really should finish putting together sooner than later so that I can wear it for Christmas events. And I cannot bring myself to buy an Elf on the Shelf.

I hope that you will follow along on our journey as Music Man and I prepare for Christmas in the Empty Nest. We’re glad you decided to visit with us today!

Got my bags, got my reservations,
Spent each dime I could afford.
Like a child in wild anticipation,
I long to hear that, “All aboard!”

Music and lyrics by Bud Green, Les Brown and Ben Homer (1944)

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15 Days of Christmas 2011: Is It Tradition or Is It Habit?

My husband and I sat down on Saturday morning and made our list. Who was doing what and what were we doing together? I think that every household must do this at some point or another, and when one celebrates Christmas, it most likely occurs on the weekend that falls two weeks before the big day.

What is a one-person job, and what can and should be done alone? I went to get my blood tests done this morning while NRB wrote the notes for an inspiration he had about a piece he was arranging for Big Band Sunday in January. Together we went to the resale shop and bought the small sideboard/bar that is likely to take us through this house and well into our retirement years in the highrise lakeview apartment/retirement condo to which we aspire some day. We spend quite a while fixing the closet system in the front hall so my tablecloths don’t weigh down the rod. He vacuumed the closet once we finished the rod repair and I put the winter coats on the rack and put the spring and fall coats in the basement. It was finally necessary to switch out the coats because it was 13 degrees when we woke up this morning. Apparently winter has finally arrived in Chicago. I washed last year’s salt off the boot tray. I got a new shower rod and a new shower curtain liner. None of these normal household activities had anything directly to do with Christmas, but they all mean that our “season” is close upon us.

He cleaned behind the furniture and moved the wing chair to the family room so that we can put up the Christmas tree in the living room. I put Christmas flowers in my mother’s antique vase I inherited. The corner is ready for the tree and the low table is ready for the manger scene. As soon as we get the stuff from this weekend dealt with, we’ll pull the Christmas tree and ornaments, the manger scene, the bathroom decorations, the Dickens’ village, and the outdoor wreaths from the crawl space and we’ll be almost ready for Christmas. It’s kind of amazing how it all comes together quickly once we’ve done the prep work.

As I’ve written this year’s 25 Days of Christmas, I’ve found that our lives run in a pretty predictable cycle. I’m trying to make the posts interesting, but really, we are predictable people. We go to work, we go to church, we make music, we take a vacation, we entertain and are entertained, and then we go back to work. We love our kids, our friends, our family, and our lives.

And that’s not a bad thing at Christmastime or anytime. We’ve become more secure in our empty-nester roles; we do what is important for the two of us at Christmas and we accommodate our children’s schedules and Christmas expectations while not putting demands on our grown-up progeny to revisit the past. We’ve talked to friends on the phone about when our children are arriving at O’Hare and when we will get together. We have some wonderful multi-generational get-togethers planned over the next three weeks with friends and family.

I’ve been doing laundry all weekend in the midst of all this busyness — ten loads of my personal clothes have stacked up over the last couple of weeks. I think it’s time to go sit in my recliner and watch my favorite “before Christmas” movie, The Holiday, which includes  visits to England and Los Angeles and Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslett, Jack Black, and Jude Law. What’s not to like?

See you tomorrow with photos of our new acquisition (and it might be decorated for Christmas if I get there). I hope you got something done this weekend! If Christmas has become a habit in your house rather than a tradition, maybe it’s time to rethink. How can you make it fresh and exciting again?

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