Monday, December 1, 2008

The first door is opened

As December said hello with an icy breath this morning, many children and adults would have been opening the first tiny door on their advent calendars as my son and daughter did.

As a child I found these little calendars a magical part of the run up to Christmas. I especially loved them if they had glitter on and if each little door was thoughtfully positioned in places that would really open, such as a window, door, basket lid or box.
My parents always kept each years calendars so when the box of decorations was carefully lifted down from the attic, my two sisters and I loved to ponder over the old ones reopening them and enjoying seeing the pictures again.
I have carried this tradition on keeping all of my children's calendars.

Each year it seems to get even more difficult to find traditional picture Advent Calendars. The high street shops are swamped with the chocolate variety usually bearing a picture that has no significance to Christmas at all. I feel it is a little sad that children are not satisfied with the simplicity of a picture and have to have a chocolate instead. I am not the cruel mother one might hear of in fairy tales denying my children a chocolate one. In fact a couple of times we have had them, but on both occasions, they admitted that they had missed the little pictures.

Many many moons back, I had the opportunity of illustrating two advent calendars.
I thought I would share them with you:

The one below was published large, but also made into a greeting card calendar. This one is my 'special'copy.My sister found it on sale in Harrods!

What did you open this morning, Chocolate or picture? :)


  1. Karen I just love your illustrations on these Advent calendars! Especially the second one.
    Last year a friend gave us a wooden one with little drawers which of course required being filled with something... so chocolate it is this year. Not sure how the whole taking turns will work for the five year old!

  2. Well Karen, I opened the door to number one and found a little robin. My calendar is quite the nicest one ever and was painted by you. I shall treasure it.

    I agree with you about the chocolate ones, my sons have not forgiven me for not buying them any this year, cruel mum, they are in their mid twenties!

  3. Hi Karen,
    That's a lovely tradition especially when the images are so pretty. I've been looking forward to opening the little windows on the one you send me, thankyou for my robin today! :)x

  4. I haven't opened any in so many years. I love yours though, it's very pretty. Isn't it a shame so many traditions give way to instant gratification. Not to sound like an old humbug but I really like some of the older traditions and wish people could find the beauty in them.

  5. We had chocolate, picture and a quote...I bought Polly a fair trade advent calender..with their yummy chocolate, a little quote on the inside of the doorand a picture behind the plastic...Thank you for reminding me how much I used to love opening advent calenders, they were just pictures when I was a child and I used to love them...

  6. We have, I like to think, the best of both worlds - a 'proper' advent calendar with pictures and a little bowl of wrapped-up chocs beside it. I love it more than the children now who are much too old.

  7. Oh, I love the ones you designed!! They are just magical. Pictures before Chocolate. Always.

  8. Aww, I remember the old days of calenders without chocolate! I think I preferred them to be honest. It was back when the magic of the countdown to Christmas was enough!:)

    Your calendar illustrations are beautiful :)

  9. I haven't had an Advent calendar in years...probably because it is true that traditional ones are indeed too difficult to find... Yours are beautiful.
    I also remember having an Advent wreath with candles when I was growing which might be a nice tradition to reinstate...and a little easier to make than a calendar for me.

  10. Hi Karen, I have arrived via House of Edward. Your blog title caught my eye as I love hares, there is something so magical about them.
    Your advent calendars are simply gorgeous! Definately traditional, no chocs for me!

  11. I'd be honoured to be on your list "doorways that lead to lovely places" and have added you to my bloglist too.

  12. I have only just found you (via Acornmoon). It's lovely - the whole blog, not merely this post.

  13. Oh my Karen your calendars are the most enchanting I've ever seen! I love your work and seeing it in such an whimsical format with hidden cubbies is wonderful!

    I didn't have them growing up I'm afraid. I've seen cute ones for small children made of felt but I like the idea of a new scene every year much better.

  14. I illustrated a couple of advent calendars a number of years back as well (all pictures - no chocolate!). That was a really satisfying project that would be fun to do again.


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