An Advent Calendar with Zoya


My friend Zoya Yumiko is from a multicultural family too! Her mom is from St. Petersburg, Russia, while her dad is from Japan.  She moves between Russia, Japan, and New York City.  Have you ever heard the term "third culture kid?" That's Zoya to a T! She speaks English, Russian, and Japanese fluently. When she's living in New York, she attends a local public school. We're neighbors and I often see Zoya in the neighborhood walking dogs for different families.


Zoya brought over something amazing. It's a beautiful advent calendar in the shape of a house! An advent calendar is used to count down the days in December until Christmas Eve.  My family doesn't celebrate Christmas, but I love to learn about my friends' families' traditions.  Zoya's parents had taken her to Germany for several weeks and they all chose this advent calendar for me together! Isn't that sweet of them?


Zoya and my Mama explained that each day there is a little treat or gift inside of the numbered doors! Mama told me that when she was little, her grandmother used to send her advent calendars with beautiful drawings or tiny pieces of chocolate behind the doors.  I got so excited about what would be behind the door! 


I pulled out the drawer for December 9th (because when this happened, it was December 9th!) I was so excited! Inside was a little note that said "May your days be merry and BRIGHT!" I was very confused! Zoya says that a note means that the present is too big for the little drawer.  Mama and Mom told me to close my eyes very tightly and not to peek!


When I opened my eyes, there was a surprise on the table! It was a cute little cactus that was smiling with its eyes closed. How adorable!


Zoya explained that it was a little nightlight! Isn't that cute? He has a little timer so he will turn off after I fall asleep.


We put the cactus nightlight and the advent calendar on the nightstand.  We stayed up late talking and talking by the light of the cactus and the New Year tree. It's so nice to have a good friend.


Aren't the holidays a special time of the year? I'm so glad I get to celebrate with my friends and family.

Have you ever had an advent calendar? What was inside of it?


  1. I live in Germany (my "Tall Family" are both from here) and I love advent calendars! Like Christmas markets, special types of cookies and decorated trees, they are just part of what gives this season its own special feeling and atmosphere. There is actually a wide range of advent calendars, from post cards or posters with a little picture (a star, a tree, a sled etc.) behind each door to the most common variant which has a little piece of chocolate for each day to the larger ones, either commercial or home-made, which hide a treat or a little gift behind each day. You can buy or make empty advent calendars to fill up yourself or buy pre-made ones with just about any content imaginable, from toys like Playmobil or Lego to Coca Cola cans or tiny whiskey flasks, trial sizes of bath supplements ... There are even advent calendars for cats and dogs which contain an appropriate treat or toy behind each door. A nice younger tradition are living advent calendars, organized by a local community (not always, but often, church-based). Each day, people will gather in front of someone else´s "door" (or window) early in the evening to enjoy some small activity together (planned by the host): some will read poetry or a story, others will sing Christmas songs, or perform tiny skits; some lead a mutual prayer, hand out cookies, mulled wine or little presents (such ascoloring pictures for children) ... it doesn´t need to be something big or expensive, it´s just a few minutes enjoying the season together.

  2. Awww. So nice for Inky. We have always had chocolates in our calendars.