“Travel at Home” by checking your neighbourhood notice board for news of visiting international gurus.
When it comes to big events in our lives, I think the anticipation is to be savoured as much as the thing itself. So I made an Advent Calendar — with an international flavour in the form of old stamps from around the world — to get the family involved and excited about Christmas.
My own childhood featured the tradition of the Advent Calendar; it is an aspect of Christmas that can foster togetherness in a simple way. Plus, our kids are just learning to count so we are making a big deal of the numbers each day.
Some of our “Christmas Letters” contain chocolate coins (a little link to Hanukkah!) and hearts, but most are filled with dried apricots. Amusingly, the kids prefer the apricots and are disappointed when they find “money” inside.
The foreign stamps are cool but they’re just for looks; of course it is interesting to investigate other countries’ Christmas customs and the history of Santa Clause (check this great site!).
And it’s wonderful to talk to people about these things. I had a long conversation with an acquaintance about her family’s Czech Christmas traditions. She said that she had never really thought about them, while growing up, but “now I feel like I’m keeping a little bit of my Dad alive when I do those things at Christmas that he used to do with us.”
That’s a great reason to develop traditions with your family, isn’t it?
One day my kids will ask me what the world was like in The Olden Days, before the internet. They may struggle to understand that telephones were necessarily attached to the wall, that research was done in libraries and that if you wanted to make friends with someone in another country, you had to write a letter.
I look forward to showing them this old hand-printed magazine, which shows the trouble that people went to, seeking connections across the world.
Some of the ads seem very dubious:
And I am dying to know if classifieds like these were successful, or even genuine? The expectations are high.
And how did people cope before Ebay? The answer is mail order.
And naturally where there is money to be made, there are people seeking to make money from the desire to make more money.
You could be rich. Things haven’t changed that much, have they?
It’s comforting to know that even if the internet breaks, an old typewriter, black marker and a few stamps can set you up with riches and international best friends.