The advent calendars of my youth were simple, made up of brightly colored squares of cardstock. They hid only pictures—Santa, elves, lavishly decorated Christmas trees and reindeer pulling a sleigh—behind their 24 thumbnail-sized doors. Some years, Mom would splurge and my brother and I would get one to share that had chocolate in it. Each day of December was like a mini Christmas as we rushed to the calendar first thing in the morning to check what new shape our little sweet would be. The calendar distracted us from obsessing over what we might be getting from Santa but also made us keenly aware of how close the big day was getting.
These calendars lost some of their appeal with the inevitable discovery that (spoiler alert!) there is no Santa. In fact, as an adult, counting the days until Christmas is often more stressful than joyous—we don’t need an advent calendar, after all, to remind us of everything that needs to get done. But my feelings about this changed when I stumbled upon the Craft BeerAdvent® Calendar at my local beer and wine shop in Victoria, B.C.
The way I once felt about chocolate, I now feel about beer—it’s the treat I relish the most. So the Craft BeerAdvent® Calendar tugged at me the same way my six-year-old son felt the pull of a Lego advent calendar—“must have.” The box held 24 mystery brews that had never been available to me in Western Canada. Could I even wait until December 1? There was nothing stopping me from immediately unsheathing every single bottle in a shameful display of impatience, but if I was to set any sort of positive example for my son, I’d have to wait.
We both opened our first windows at 6 a.m. on the first day of December. His treat was a handful of red, green and yellow Lego pieces that were to be assembled into a small Christmas tree; mine was a bottle of Ayinger Kellerbier. It was a style I’d rarely encountered before, and the hazy, unfiltered lager was a perfect holiday treat. (For 2019, the first beer in the pack is Voodoo Love Child.)
The next few weeks were a humbling lesson in self-restraint for both of us. But each night I was duly rewarded with a new beer discovery—ranging from hearty lagers to strong, dark winter warmers—and he slowly assembled a Lego Christmas village. Day 24 was bittersweet. There was the anticipation of what was surely a special beer in the final slot, as well as the recognition that, with this beer, the fun was over. For my son, his village was complete, and he had a visit from Santa to look forward to the next day. My thoughts, however, were already focused on next year’s calendar.
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