Welcome to the start of December – notable if you are my kids because it’s the month where you get to eat chocolate with breakfast every morning. However, as well as working their way through their chocolate advent calendars this month, we’ll also create our own reverse advent calendar. Want to know what a reverse advent calendar is? Read on.
Christmas Round Our House
I love Christmas. I think it’s ace. In fact, I nearly broke my brain coming up with 24 ideas for the Dadvent Calendar last year. But I kept going because it’s my favourite time of year.
It’s Christmas month and even the self-proclaimed festive police on social media can’t complain about me mentioning it now. I’m sure they’ll try though. I’ve seen so many people on Twitter and Facebook demand that people do not put up their decorations before December, but I can’t work out who put them in charge. Anyone know?
Don’t get me wrong, we’re not off tree shopping just yet, but if you start thinking about your Yuletide display in October then more power to you. Personally, I think I’d be a little bored of it by 25th December, but that probably says more about my attention span than anything else.
We’re not flush, but there will be presents under the tree, warmth in the radiators and far too much food for the four of us to feasibly eat on the table. And whilst I want the kids to still believe in the magic of Christmas, I also want them to know that there are a great many people who are much less fortunate than us. Yes, it might break the spell a little for them to know that Santa doesn’t visit everywhere, but if we can actively do something to help others, then surely that’s a more powerful and longer lasting example of the real festive spirit.
And that is what the reverse advent calendar is all about.
How to Put Together a Reverse Advent Calendar
The idea of a reverse advent calendar is to place one essential food or hygiene item into a box every day between the start of December and Christmas Eve, when you package it up and drop it off to help out people in need.
We did this for the first time last year, and I think Elsa really took in the message and understood what we were trying to pass on without it ruining her adulation for the man in red. Mind you, she’s still not worked out that if Santa had a beer at every house like he does at ours, he’d not make it to the next town, let alone all the way around the world.
She has started to ask about inequality in society and I think that’s important. There’s no need to go into too much detail at this stage, but she is certainly developing a social conscience.
This is Elsa filling the box last year:
Suggested Items for a Reverse Advent Calendar
Suggested items for a reverse advent calendar include kitchen essentials like flour, sugar, rice, pasta, tinned vegetables, tea, coffee, cereals, cooking oil. In addition, things such as deodorant, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes and sanitary products are always gratefully received.
Wharfedale Refugee Response Reverse Advent Calendars
As you might have worked out from the above video, last year’s reverse advent calendar aimed to help refugees in our area. We are lucky that in our corner of West Yorkshire there is a fantastic organisation called Wharfedale Refugee Response who coordinate the collection and distribution of the boxes to those who need them, through a team of amazing volunteers.
Starting in 2015, at a time when refugees were being used as a political football (well, maybe more so than usual), this group reminds people that these are human beings escaping horrors beyond what most of us can imagine; penniless, scared and in a country in which they potentially know no one else. If we can do anything to help them, we should, and the group offers the chance to do that.
This year the group is collecting for a host of different causes. They will take the reverse advent calendar boxes to refugee and immigrant groups as well as to food banks in the areas around Leeds and Bradford, and other charities helping people in poverty.
Want to Make a Reverse Advent Calendar?
Even if you don’t live in the Wharfedale area, there are plenty of groups across the country organising similar schemes. You could even just create your own box and deliver it to people who need it in your community. You could even do it on your own or start a group with your friends.
I love Christmas for the presents (giving AND receiving, obvs). I adore the lights, the brass bands, the food, the drink, the atmosphere. But I also love the fact that it brings out the best in many people and reminds us to help out those who are less fortunate.
I could always do with earning more money, driving a newer car and owning a bigger house, but that’s not really what it’s about. I have an amazing family who will want for nothing, so this is the least I can do.
I’ll leave Yorkshire’s very own Commoners Choir with the last word: