I feel blessed to live in a community with a variety of beliefs. This year my holiday preparations include taking the time to discover how they are connected and creating my own personal Advent Calendar.

By Brooklyn Museum (Creative Commons)

By Brooklyn Museum (Creative Commons)

“I am Gabriel … I was sent to speak to you and bring you good news.” Luke 1:19

My childhood memories are traditional — community gatherings, hay rides, caroling in snow storms, the annual school Christmas concert, midnight mass, ice skating, handmade gifts, decorating the tree, setting up the nativity that has been in our family since before I was born and playing music for our church choir from age 10.

My early Hong Kong holidays were spent escaping to an Asian beach like everyone else because the holiday was nothing more than an export business. For a time, I was a regular at one of many Orphan Hong Kong Christmas Lunches, having no interest to spend my precious time and money to travel to a place where it was entirely possible I would be snowed in and unable to see anyone

When Christmas finally arrived in Hong Kong, it launched with the premiums and plastic and adverts of any other commercial holiday, free from any spiritual meaning. In the absence of a family of my own and growing distance from my roots, the season became a time of sadness triggered by the emptiness of hollow marketing campaigns that kept getting louder as each year passed. My Christmas Day was just another quiet day, free from cards and gifts and decorations and all of the trappings of just another commercial holiday.

Since then, I have begun reclaiming Christmas and it is becoming a very personal special occasion for me. I unpack my few precious decorations that have been with me since forever, get in touch with friends near and far and organize a quiet lunch at home with a few close friends. This year, I got back in touch with my handmade history and started attending local markets with my wares.

The one thing I never had growing up was an advent calendar so this year, I add it to my own tradition — my first ever. I trust you will enjoy reading as much as I enjoy preparing.