Advent and Anthologies (win one!) ~Tanya Hanson

MarryingMinda Crop to UsePart of this year’s Thanksgiving fun was the two days our eight-year old grandson spent with us. While running last -minute errands with him, he proclaimed, “Gramma, we need an Advent Calendar.” I promptly told him to select one. You know, the ones with a tiny chocolate for each day, when he also proclaimed: “No, I have one. This one’s for Grampa and you.”

Awwwww. Here’s what he picked for us. Advent candy calendar

Advent, based on the Latin word for “coming,” is the religious preparation for the birth of Christ. Technically it begins on the Sunday closest to the birth of Saint Andrew (November 30) and proceeds through the next three Sundays. The observance often includes a wreath of purple candles, and devotions for hope and peace.

For any kid, though, “Advent” marks the 24 days before Christmas Day, and they keep track with a calendar. There’s usually a little door to open, and a treat involved. Often, a piece of candy lurks behind that closed door, sometimes a tiny toy. And calendars appear in many shapes and forms.

Advent train

In the early 1900’s, Gerhard Lang of Germany printed the first paper advent calendars, based on the ones his mother made for him in his childhood when she pasted 24 pictures on a piece of cardboard. Later, he added little doors. A picture or Bible verse would appear.

Advent Santa and Reindeer Calendar

In America, the advent calendar became commonplace when President Eisenhower was photographed opening one with his grandchildren. Today there are even Advent calendars for computer geeks, featuring 24 hints and helps on web design and coding. I’ve even seen a savoury advent calendar with 24 daily bits of beef jerky!

In my little world, two Advent calendars stand out. In my first grade at a Lutheran day school eons ago, our room mother made a chain of walnuts. Inside each empty shell was a tiny treat that varied day to day. We each got a turn. I clearly remember a scarf being pulled out of a shell like a magician. And the horrified little boy who pulled out a tiny pink rubber baby doll.

Then…a few years ago, we visited a large Christmas shop in New Hampshire during a leaf-peeper expedition, and I found the best Advent Calendar ever, especially considering I also collect nativity sets. It was win-win. It stands up but I photographed it lying down so you maybe see all the tiny pieces.

Advent Calendar New Hampshire

The Fontanini set has 24 tiny figures representing the Nativity, from shepherds to animals to the Holy Family. Each has its own little numbered hook. By Christmas Eve, the 24th piece is Baby Jesus. (The opposite side of each piece is the one to use so the number doesn’t show.)

Advent NH baby Jesus

Christmas is such a time of hope and wonder…what’s the best way your family has marked those pre-Christmas days? How do you think little ones in the Old West kept track?

Let me know in your comments. I’ll be picking THREE NAMES today to win copies of the three Christmas anthologies I’m featured in. Wow. When it rains, it pours. And please, God, let it. We’re sick of drought here in California.

My story Canticle appears in the anthology, One Christmas Knight, my very first medieval. Set in the time of King John, Alisoun dreads her upcoming marriage to an old lord when her heart is stolen by a handsome mystery man. I’ve always wanted to write about a “monk” falling in love, and Prairie Rose Publications gave me the chance. Sigh.

2015-11-14 21.49.37

To save  her family’s fortunes, Lady Alisoun must wed an elderly earl the day after Christmas. But in the chapel on Christmas Eve, her heart collides with that of an elegant, mysterious stranger. Is he…one of King John’s spies…?

Raised in a monastery, Lord Kitt has no experience with love, but finds his heart lost to the lovely lady. Yet he cannot succumb, for  he is scheduled to marry the day after Christmas. To a woman he has never met.


Mail Order Christmas Bride

Her Holiday Husband  (completes the trilogy of my recent SISTERS) comes to life in the A Mail Order Christmas Bride anthology that also features stories by 7 other fine authors including our very own Kathleen Rice Adams and Cheryl Pierson. Secrets and surprises explode when families meddle with a beautiful single mother and an outlaw-turned-respectable…I had a blast with the characters of fictional “East Slope, Colorado.”

I named my town after my daughter’s horrible little “East Slope” dormitory when she did her Study Abroad in Sussex, England. Many of her breezy, I-don-t-have-much-time emails mistyped the place East Slop. I just  couldn’t resist.

Now a respectable rancher, the outlaw formerly known as Black Ankles doubts any decent woman would wed him…hence  a mail order bride set up by his well- meaning brother.  Indeed,  Ronnie Heisler’s whole family expects him to speak vows with an unknown woman come Christmas Eve.

Set up by her meddling sister, Phoebe Pierce has fallen in love with the tintype of her intended’s twin brother. But has she too many secrets of her own?

Memories from Maple Street Xmas Web (2)

My memoir, Christmas Magic, is my first published non-fiction, and appears in the homespun anthology, Memories from Maple Street U.S.A. The Best Christmas Ever. For me, as a kid, Christmas was magic and sparkles. As a grown up, Christmas is miracles and memories.

When I was a little girl, the glorious Barbie doll I saw one Summer became my Christmas miracle. Other magic moments and  grown up miracles happened forever after, but Barbie came to life again, one Christmas a half-century later…


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16 thoughts on “Advent and Anthologies (win one!) ~Tanya Hanson”

  1. Years ago, when my four sons were young, I bought a kit and made an advent calendar. The background is a felt Christmas tree with squares of red velcro. There are twenty-four pockets along the bottom with cute ornaments for the tree like an angle, snowman, sleigh, etc. My boys took turns putting the ornaments on as our countdown to Christmas. My youngest son is 25 now and in grad school but he possessively claims the calendar as his own and still puts the ornaments on. He doesn’t even like it when my granddaughter comes over and sticks one on. 🙂

    • Hi Vickie, what a fun fact about your boys! I totally get the “ownership” of a family tradition, especially when our offspring become young adults. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  2. I have never had an Advent Calendar but have always wanted one. I’m not sure why we never had one. I would love to win one. Maybe I could make having one a new tradition.

    May you be blessed today.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.
    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    • Hi Cindy, I remember the little paper ones when I was a child…you opened the door and and there s a picture underneath. My kids had little candy ones, as well as a little mousie that moved each day into a little pocket on a hanging banner. Fun times. I like how the advent calendars can be bought anywhere these days, even dollar stores. Thanks so much for commenting today.

  3. I still enjoy an advent calendar… have my little nephew joining in on the tradition now! I also have this cute little snowman that hangs a countdown to Christmas.

    • Hi Colleen, I love traditions that extend down to the next generation. May you have a wonderful Christmas with the little guy. It’s always good to see to you here…thanks!

  4. Wow Tanya –gotta say that your medieval looks intriguing. The cover is very nice…

    I enjoyed advent calendars growing up, but when I tried to restart that tradition with my own sons, it was just too much for me to keep up with due to my crazy schedule as a nurse…I know that sounds thin as an excuse but I really had trouble with any kind of a schedule other than making sure they did their homework and keeping them fed! Add Christmas (and several birthdays) to the mix and I sank fast. (My husband was a high school principal and so always gone with things happening evenings at the school.) Advent calendars were one of the traditional casualties…

    I think that is one of the reasons that as much as I enjoy the holiday season, I really enjoy January in the Midwest!

  5. Hi Kathryn, wow, I am breathless just just imagining those busy days of yours! Hubs had such a hectic firefighter schedule, but as a high school teacher, I somehow managed pre-Christmas. The kids always had a program at their parochial school and I played the handbells at church. Looking back, I don’t see how I did it. Sheesh. Thanks so much for posting today. I attended college in Nebraska but (fortunately!) got to come home for a month at Christmas. Nothing against Nebraska, I love it, but brrrrrrrr, this California beach girl needed some sunshine and short sleeves. Ironically, I do miss snow when the holidays roll around. Thanks so much for posting, filly sister.

  6. I used to have advent calendars when I was a kid. Sometimes I had chocolate advent calendar and sometimes I had sticker calender.

    • Hi Minna, thanks for stopping in. Oh, kids love stickers! What a fun idea! Kids sure love stickers. I keep imagining pioneer kids maybe with a pinecone, pulling off a “leaf” each day until Christmas.

  7. Years ago, when my kids were little, we would start on Advent to make a different cookie or treat every day. We would save out a dozen for us, and put aside the rest for gifts. I gave these homemade gifts to all their school teachers and Sunday school teachers. We still had enough for them to take to their Amma’s house on Christmas Eve, and some for Santa. I can’t believe we made that many different kinds, but it was fun, and meaningful. My kids are now all great cooks (one daughter is a pastry chef) and they learned the meaning of Advent and of giving.

  8. Wow, Marla! What a terrific idea! You were very organized I think. What wonderful lessons of love you taught your kids. Great idea. Thanks so muck for stopping by today. xo

  9. I use to get advent calendars for my son when he was little. He had the chocolate one and also a lego one, I think one year. He alway enjoyed them. I never had one as a child. I can tell you this much I did have a Barbie, Midge, Skipper and Ken, not I didn’t get these all at once maybe one a year until I had them. These are the toys that I charished as a child and I still have them but they are in bad shape because I played with them a lot.

  10. Tanya, we never did Advent calendars when I was growing up. But when my kids were younger there was a big Methodist church we went to for a while that made a huge deal out of Advent–bigger than I’d ever known. I bought them a cute little Hallmark Advent calendar that had a door that opened for every day and said something like “Be kind to someone” etc. I think I still have that packed away.

    Great post!

  11. I have been so busy and really missed visiting P & P. We made advent calendars of green felt with a poem at the top and 24 little candy canes tied down the strip below. A women’s group I belonged to made them for a bazaar one year and I made one for our girls. We used it for many years.
    I love your nativity one. I too collect nativity sets and it would make a nice addition.
    I am going to have to check out the ONE CHRISTMAS KNIGHT. I love medieval stories and anthologies are a favorite.

  12. I’ve always had advent calendars since it is a tradition in my family. I have found some really special ones with ornaments but most were the paper ones where you opened the doors and found pictures of Christmas toys. I found my son Lego advent calendars for a few years but now we have all grown up and Starbucks has one with chocolate filled tin ornaments and a gift card. I’m not sure how children in the West kept up with the days before Christmas. Since my family’s tradition started before my grandparents came to the U.S., I always thought everyone had advent calendars and the children who traveled across the country would also have them.
    I’d be happy to send most of the rain we’ve been “enjoying” here in Dallas to California.
    Here’s to an afternoon enjoying your Christmas Stories with a McDonalds Large Sugar Free Vanilla Iced Coffee (without the ice 🙂 )

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