My mother gave us this advent calender. My grandfather always sent us German ones when I was a child. After his death, I bought them for my own children — the German ones, still, or sometimes American ones that were a bit different. Then I bought the Playmobil ones at work for some years. This year I hadn’t gotten around to it by Thanksgiving, but fortunately my mother thought of it. Because it is not that popular a custom, there are few available in our town, and if you are late, you may go without.

These calendars count the days from December 1 to Christmas Eve, not Advent proper. At our house, we take turns opening the window — usually everyone comes to see the surprise. So today’s window is still closed.

In case you do not have an advent calendar, I continue my musical advent calendar for you. Here’s a file for the charming Polish carol, “Infant Holy, Infant Lowly.” You get to pick what instrument you would like to hear it on. This is a beautiful tune, which really benefits from being sung well. Any instrument is going to sound good on this tune, but I think strings would be my first choice. Strings are not among the choices on that site. If you sing it, take some effort with the dynamics and phrasing. It will reward you.

I had a productive day yesterday. This is very satisfying. I didn’t do everything on my list, because I follow the traditional advice to “overplan,” and because I did take an hour to read and knit. Oh, and maybe I can blame some of it on spending time quizzing #1 son on AP Euro. He’s having a hard time keeping track of all the information, or possibly he has not been paying any attention in class. How can you hear exciting stories like the marriages of Henry VIII or the travels of Peter the Great and not remember them? I try to retell them with lots of thrills and chills, but he is not enthralled. However, between the morning and the evening quizzing, he did remember quite a bit, so it was worth it.

Nah, I guess I cannot claim that I spent so much time discussing the Reformation that I didn’t get the bathroom cleaned, when the truth is I just didn’t feel like cleaning the bathroom. But I did make soap, and cookies, and did as much shopping as I can reasonably expect to be able to do in one day, and got the packages mailed with assurance from the clerks that they would arrive by Christmas.

They probably lie about it at this point. “Oh, yes, ma’am, that’ll get to New Zealand in time,” they chortle, thinking what an idiot I am to leave it so late. They just say it to stave off temper fits in the long long long line. Probably. I sympathize with them, if that is so. But I hope that the packages will get to their destinations in time. As promised.