Last week, I realized with a start that the clock was ticking: if I was going to make an advent calendar for my overgrown child (Shawn), I needed to get my ass in gear and have it ready by December 1st. He loved last year's, and on Thursday night, when he confessed he was especially excited about the impending holiday season, I knew I couldn't not make one. We now have a full-blown yearly tradition on our hands here. Yesterday morning, I sneakily stopped by Jam Paper (heaven!) on my way to work to pick up my supplies. Because I always wake up incredibly early on Saturday mornings to do my long run, I knew I could pull this off as a surprise - none of that locking-myself-into-a-room-while-he-wonders-what-I-have-up-my-sleeve business. Oh no, I'm beyond that now. After getting dressed, eating toast, foam rolling, and stretching, I assembled everything while Shawn was still sleeping soundly. I slipped out the door at 6:30 for my run and he was none the wiser.
When I got home, Shawn woke up and finally ambled past me toward the wall of paper bags. I was trying to act nonchalant as I entered my splits into a spreadsheet while watching him out of the corner of my eye for his reaction. He let out a little "oh," covered his mouth with his hand, and looked like he was going to cry. The note in December 1st's bag directed Shawn toward his present.
I lucked out that my long run was also the perfect cover for the procurement of the first day's present: a little Christmas tree. We hadn't planned on getting a tree this year, but ornaments are one of my favorite advent gifts: inexpensive, timely, and sized perfectly for my little brown bags. Once I decided to make an advent calendar, a tree was back on the table (literally - it now sits in the center of it). I intentionally ended my 10 miles in Greenwich Village, where I knew I'd easily be able to find a tree merchant. Home my two-footer rode with me on the subway, where I left it outside our front door. (I even brought the newspaper in - and mentioned it to Shawn - so he wouldn't open the door and see the tree before he discovered the advent calendar. Let me tell ya, I did everything right to ensure I pulled this off.)
Shawn said he wasn't expecting an advent calendar this year, and the month of December snuck up on him anyway, so he was completely blindsided. The priceless look on his face definitely proved that I accomplished my mission.