I stood on the stool, my heart pounding with excitement.
I’d been longing for this moment for ages, and now it was finally here … I was finally going to open my very first advent calendar door.
My tiny fingers carefully felt for the crack in the cardboard.
Slowly, I eased back the door … to reveal the beautiful picture of a robin, perched on a snowy branch.
The image is etched in my memory because it meant so much to me. I was absolutely wonder-struck at the notion that there were pictures hidden behind each of the advent calendar doors. And I couldn’t wait to get to the double doors on Christmas Eve to see what they’d reveal!
When, some twenty years later, my son opened his first advent calendar, he was horrified to learn that back in my day advent calendars didn’t contain chocolate.
When I told him we simply had pictures his mouth dropped open like I’d just told him I was beaten and starved for all of December.
This, to me, sums up all that is wrong in our material-obsessed society. We’re losing the ability to experience wonder and joy in simplicity.
When I set out six years ago to try and find the secret to true happiness – a journey that would ultimately lead to this website and my next book for adults – I learned that true happiness doesn’t come from things, it comes from within.
So, if you’re feeling a little jaded from all of the commercialism surrounding Christmas, why not try my Advent Calendar of Joy and Wonder below.
Instead of doors to open, there are simple things to do, all of which are designed to make you feel happier and spread some love, because surely that’s what it should be all about. Here’s to having a wonder-full Christmas…
Day 1: Write a list of all the things and people you’re grateful for
Day 2: Take a picture of something that makes you feel wonder
Day 3: Set aside 10 minutes (or more) to listen to music that lights you up
Day 4: Find a poem that makes you feel glad to be alive. Print or copy it out.
Day 5: Write someone a thank you letter
Day 6: Perform a random act of kindness
Day 7: Have a kitchen disco, playing all of your favourite feel-good tunes
Day 8: Go outside and immerse yourself in nature
Day 9: Spread some love on your social media. Hit the like button. Leave some positive comments. Share anything that brings you joy
Day 10: Make someone a Christmas gift infused with loving thoughts
Day 11: Spend the money you would have spent on a coffee on someone else
Day 12: Forgive someone for something
Day 13: Forgive yourself for everything. Wipe your slate clean
Day 14: Write a haiku about love
Day 15: Make yourself a Christmas card – complete with loving wishes
Day 16: Tell someone you love them
Day 17: Complete the following sentence: Life is wonder-full because…
Day 18: Sit in silence for at least ten minutes and visualise letting go of anything that’s causing you stress
Day 19: Ask yourself: How can I bring more kindness to the world? Jot down your answers as they come to you throughout the day
Day 20: Find or take a picture that brings you joy. Share it with others
Day 21: Give a gift to a homeless person
Day 22: Listen to What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong
Day 23: Take some time out to enjoy a simple pleasure … like a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie, or a woodland walk
Day 24: Write a list of all the things you’re proud of achieving this year. Give yourself the Christmas gift of feeling good about yourself