I admit that the nervousness is increasing. My mother’s package still hasn’t arrived. There is something in there that I need very urgently today: my Advent calendar. I, who left home more than seven years ago, am firmly in my professional life and more than 30 years old, am afraid that I won’t be able to open my first door today. I don’t even know what exactly is behind it because my mother turned it into a cryptic puzzle. “No chocolate or anything else to eat, but you might still enjoy it,” she explained over the phone earlier this week. Hopefully I’ll find out today whether this means cooking recipes, wellness goodies or toys.

This is not a family tradition, as one might assume after reading it for the first time. It’s been ages since my mother last gave me an Advent calendar. Even in the last years of school, when I was still living at home in a small Bavarian village, I bought my own Advent calendar. Sometimes there was chocolate in it, sometimes cosmetics, sometimes tea bags. By the time I got to the latter, the Advent calendar magic had completely lost its effect. Too often I didn’t like the type of tea of ​​the day, and too often I forgot to take it out of the Christmas-printed cardboard cutout.

The fact that I, as a notorious coffee drinker, even tried to make friends with tea could be identified as a basic problem. But the root lies deeper. In recent years I have become increasingly disgusted with the cold and the darkness. I’m already letting the autumn be ruined by the anxious certainty of the coming winter. I have an ambivalent relationship with Christmas: I love celebrating at home with my family; They are the most beautiful and carefree days of the whole year. But I hate the run-up to Christmas. I think gingerbread and cookies are overrated, mulled wine is far too sweet for me and I only go to Christmas markets when I can no longer withstand the pressure from my circle of friends.

You could say that the anticipation of Christmas is overshadowed by my personal struggle with the daily dwindling daylight and falling temperatures. That’s why in recent years I’ve gotten into the habit of escaping to tropical areas for several weeks in November or December to soak up the sun. But returning to Germany had the effect that the cold hit me with even more force and banished any spark of Christmas contemplation from my freezing body. This year, however, there is a spark left behind that could perhaps even turn into a small, warming fire.

I owe that to my mother. And the feeling of being a child again, eagerly awaiting the surprise. A feeling that is otherwise reserved exclusively for Christmas Day. The fact that I am starting Advent this year with this childlike anticipation already makes the short days more bearable. It’s not just the anticipation that warms my heart, but my mother’s gesture. That she remembered little Laura’s shining eyes and helped me get through the cold season with the pre-Christmas present. Perhaps an Advent calendar unfolds its magic best when it is given as a gift with a loving ulterior motive. I’ll test it this December – if only the postman would finally ring the doorbell…