Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Advent Adventure

I remember the good old days when the only way you knew it was getting close to Christmas was when the advent calendar came out.  I don’t think my mum was cheap, (sorry mum) but I had the same one every single year and it wasn’t one of those fancy calendars with chocolate.  Oh no, I had the one with a little nativity picture behind every door.

The excitement grew throughout the month as every morning you ran to find the door of the day and open it before school.  I got to know that calendar so well that I pretty much knew what each picture was going to be. But somehow, it didn’t take any of the thrill out of it.   The day of the 24th was always the best because there was a double door! [*squee*]  I already knew there would be a picture of baby Jesus in his manger, but I didn’t care because the next day the big man himself would be here.
This is how I remember it
It really was a brilliant Christmas that first year the calendars came with Cadbury chocolate behind each door. Of course, I was too old by then to have one, but my children benefited nicely.  I’m not sure exactly how healthy it was to have a lump of chocolate before school every day for a month, but it did get them out of bed quicker, I must say.

It all changed when we got to America. It seems like nobody knew what an advent calendar was. My poor kiddies had to wait for some kind relative to send one to us each year, which invariably did not arrive until the middle of December.  This was actually fine by them as they got to eat two weeks worth of chocolate in one day.

It was like an actual Christmas miracle that first year I found an advent calendar here.  I was probably in one of those swanky “European” shops which sometimes sell PG Tips and Christmas Crackers. But there they were, up on the shelf, just glowing and calling out to me.  Of course I had to buy two and those flippin’ things were expensive.  (Now I know why I had the same one every year).

Over the years, they have become more available, but obviously still not as popular as in England. On a recent shopping trip, I noticed that America, apparently, still doesn’t entirely understand the advent calendar concept.  These things are everywhere – can you spot the problem?  You’ve got to put your own “stuff” in each day.  Where’s the excitement about that?  No, just no.  Sorry America, please go back to the drawing board.
I don’t have any children living at home anymore, so really, the Advent Calendar days are behind me…. Or so I thought.  Then I found this little beauty.  It's a Gin calendar... GIN!!  Please, please can someone buy one for me. And no, I don't care that it will be half way through the month.  I'm sure I can handle it.  Thank you. And Happy Christmas!!  [to me]

Gin - Don't mind if I do!!
Oh, and for all those US born peeps who still don't understand what I'm talking about - and I know you're out there because I've asked many of you, this is from Wikipedia:
An Advent calendar is a special calendar used to count or celebrate the days in anticipation of Christmas. Since the date of the first Sunday of Advent varies, falling between November 27 and December 3 inclusive, the Advent calendar usually begins on December 1, although many include the previous few days that are part of the season. The Advent calendar was first used by German Lutherans in the 19th and 20th centuries but is now ubiquitous among adherents of many Christian denominations.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The San Bernardino Shooting

This was not the blog post I was going to write today, but circumstances changed.  
I’m not going to get into the gun control debate because there’s enough of that already.  
This is just what happened to me yesterday.

Well yesterday was a bit out of the ordinary for an English girl.  Unfortunately not so much for many Americans though.  I work in San Bernardino, just around the corner from the building where the so called "mass shooting" took place.  

At around 11 a.m. an email was sent to us saying 'active shooting' and stay in the building. Obviously no more work was accomplished that morning (or the remainder of the day actually).  People began watching news reports on their computer so we could see exactly where it was happening and we were quite shocked when we saw just how close it was.  

Reports kept coming through of how many people had been killed and then we got another email which said 'Meeting in conference room immediately'. [A bit ominous]  We were told the 'situation' was being monitored and we were welcome to go home if we wanted to - however, they would not advise it as the building was on lockdown and the shooters had not been apprehended.  We could leave AT OUR OWN RISK.  Well, what a choice... Sit at your desk all day wondering if you would ever get to go home or take your life into your hands and try and get to your car!  Very reassuring, I must say.

I lasted a couple more hours before I decided to go home - because quite frankly being at home on the sofa is better than even the best day at work really.  

Walking from the building to my car had my heart beating quite fast.  I could see my little Mini from the door, but it felt like it was a mile away.  The car park was deserted and there was not a security guard in sight - I think they had all bolted at the first sign of trouble to be honest.

What didn't help was as soon as I walked out the door and was out in the open police sirens broke the silence with screeching and revving engines very close by.  Needless to say I nearly wee'd myself.  I didn't want to run to my car as that would make me look silly, [also I didn't want to draw attention to myself] so I speed(?) walked and jumped in, locked the door and took a deep breath.  Phew.

As I drove to the entrance driveway the sirens got closer and police cars flew past on the freeway.  A Twitter alert came in saying there was now a car chase with shots fired.  Oh bloody hell, I thought, I should have stayed at my desk!

The town was pretty much deserted and I got home in record time, which was nice.  

What really amazed me (but probably shouldn't) was the amount of rumour and paranoia during the day. Work colleagues were freaking out in case we “were next”, there were said to be gunmen running amok in all directions, some were posting on Facebook that they could see it all happening outside the window which they clearly couldn’t – the building is 1.1 miles away and unless you’ve got super x-ray vision and can see through buildings and around corners, there’s no way.  Yes, we could hear the police and see all the helicopters, but that’s about it.  I work on the sixth floor and as I wandered around, even going to the fifth floor, all doors were closed and locked tight.  Some had notes saying if you wanted to get in, you should phone them.  Never mind the fact that the main doors to the building were locked and nobody could get in, let alone up in the lift to a random floor in the building.  I know I probably sound like a right uncompassionate cow, but I will admit it was a bit scary, to be sure.

It did make me reminisce for the good old days growing up just outside London when the only thing we had to be worried about, terrorist wise, was the IRA.  Granted you never knew when a bomb would go off, but when they did, at least there weren’t nutters running around with guns shooting at everyone.  They were already back in Ireland.
The IRA blew up the pub round the corner from my Nan's house
The world has become a very crazy place and this was just a bit too close for my liking!

Seychelles Mama