This Year’s Reverse Advent Calendar

Perhaps it’s a little too early for a post that touches on anything Christmas. I know. I know. Tomorrow is Remembrance Day. I’m jumping the gun and getting my holidays and observances all out of whack. In our home there’s an unspoken rule that we don’t start decorating for Christmas until after PJ’s birthday at the end of November. But I do want to plant this idea in your mind well in advance of Advent so you’ll have time to prepare for it if it’s something you want to do with your family.

Last year our family did a reverse Advent calendar. Yes, the kids had their little windows to peel back and a chocolate to pry out each day. But we also had another countdown that was all about giving, not getting. Each day we unfolded a slip of paper that told us what item to grab off our pantry shelves and add to a growing basket of food for our local food bank. The kids loved it and took turns each morning fetching that day’s item. This didn’t take a lot of prep on my part. I just had to make sure our shelves were well stocked and print out a list of food items I knew we’d be sure to have on hand.

This year I knew I wanted to do another giving type of Advent countdown, but for some reason instead of the food bank I started thinking about our local pregnancy centre. The more I thought about it, the more excited I got, especially since Christmas is all about celebrating baby Jesus. I’ll admit this year’s reverse Advent calendar required a bit more planning and shopping and was definitely a bigger financial commitment. Diapers and baby supplies are way more expensive than boxes of cereal or cans of beans, that’s for sure! So I started early, before we were feeling strapped for cash with all that last minute Christmas shopping.

You might be thinking that I would have been better off to take that cash and just give it as a monetary donation. Charities certainly do like that as they can put your donation toward their greatest needs in that moment. But this endeavour is about more than just a donation. I’m doing this for my children too. Yes, I could swing by the pregnancy centre any day while I’m out running errands, but that wouldn’t give my children the opportunity to experience this joy for 24 days straight. Every morning they’ll be opening something that will help a baby or a mother in need. I want them to realize that there are families out there who make the sometimes difficult decision to choose life, not knowing how they will adequately care for that new life. I want them to know the joy of giving to the most vulnerable. And I want to take time to reflect on how God humbled Himself and came to dwell among us as a helpless baby.

I didn’t just go to the store and pick out all the cute baby things that caught my eye, however. I contacted the pregnancy centre and asked them what their greatest needs are right now. Some of them might be a little strange to open at breakfast during Advent. I can just imagine if it’s my seven year old son’s turn the day we open a package of women’s maxi pads. But, oh, well. I had to strike a balance between the centre’s needs and our family “fun.” I was able to cover everything on their list and pick up a few other things that I hope will be of use to them at some point. I think it’s gonna be a great Advent. If this is something you’re interested in doing, here is the needs list I received from our local pregnancy centre:

  • Size 2/3 Pullups
  • Size 4/5 Pullups
  • Size 4 diapers
  • Baby wipes
  • Step 2 Baby Formula
  • Receiving blankets
  • Women’s pads
  • Breast pads

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