Inauguration Day Advent Calendars

Right before Christmas, people starting sharing this idea: if you start your advent calendar over the day after Christmas (or buy discounted ones that have CHOCOLATE in them), you’ll end the calendar on January 20, on Inauguration Day. That seemed like a great idea, but our advent calendar is very much nativity story–didn’t seem like a good fit. And the discounted chocolate calendars weren’t VERY discounted, and my son is allergic to a lot of them. So I started thinking about making them.

My mother told me today, looking at hers, that her Grandma Marlow used to make “sunshine boxes” for people–just a bunch of little boxes with fun things in them for people who were sick, or having surgery, or shut-in. Either I heard that story at some point and internalized it (I don’t remember hearing it), OR I got a visit from an ancestor. Grandma Marlow was my maternal great-grandmother, and had passed on before I was born. But she was very creative, and her children were all creative in different ways. (More on that some other time!)

The Inauguration Calendars I ended up making are these:

picture of boxes made of paper with dates on them, tied with ribbon boxes made of paper with the date on them, closed with twine or ribbon small boxes made of paper with the date on them, closed with washi tape

I’ve been posting as part of the #makedontbreak challenge, and sometimes the prompt worked, sometimes not. But it’s been pretty amazing. I don’t drink alcohol any more, or take Xanax, so managing my anxiety has to come from other bad habits OR–in this case–#craftingismyxanax (I’m not the only one to use that hashtag). When I’m crafting, I really do feel absorbed and relaxed.

Except for today, when the level of relaxation and absorption was fluctuating. I really, really wanted to get these finished to take to my folks. Mom is in assisted living & I can give things to her, but can’t have visits. We can say hello from a distance as we’re leaving boxes, etc. on chairs, stepping back, retrieving them. For Dad, who’s in the nursing home side of the same facility, I can leave packages and someone gets them back to him eventually. I’m going to try to Skype with him tonight to talk to him about it. Because I had a deadline, it did feel kind of tense.

Still, I’m thrilled with what I was able to do. I learned how to make little boxes from scrapbook paper. I learned how to use a scoring board (which I bought with Christmas money). I found quotes to include for some days, chocolate (which my son isn’t allergic to) for other days, and silly little toys for other days.

When this morning started, I had all the boxes made, but no dates, not assembled with their stuff inside, not in their trays. It looked like this:

So little by little as the day went on, I got the dates affixed, the goodies inserted, and then the hard part–affixing them inside the tray w/ double-sided tape because I didn’t want my folks to have to worry about keeping the boxes in there. I was worried they’d pop out and it would be a chore to sort them (although the dates are on there, and probably won’t come off).

I learned that you have to figure out how you’re going to close the box BEFORE you put the double-sided tape on the bottom of it to affix to the tray, because once it’s in the tray, you’re way more limited in terms of how you close it. My Mom’s calendar uses a lot of ribbon (which I found challenging to tie–I have arthritis in my hands and a paper cut under one thumb nail that is very sore), and my son’s uses washi tape–which didn’t work very well (I have more to learn about washi tape, apparently).

This is the closure mode I ended up liking most, the third way I’d tried, for Dad’s. I used a hole punch and threaded twine or ribbon through and tied.

boxes made of paper with the date on them, closed with twine or ribbon

Why all this effort? Well, it gives me an excuse for crafting. But also–I wanted to do SOMETHING for my parents, who are pretty isolated in winter, in a pandemic, in a time of insurrection (though I didn’t know about that until Wednesday). And something for my son, who just turned 16 but can’t get his drivers license yet because we haven’t wanted him in a car, breathing with someone we don’t know, for the behind-the-wheel part.

And it’s just a way for me to fight against the darkness. Here’s the letter I wrote:

  • This is an Inauguration Day Countdown Calendar, kind of like an Advent Calendar, but looking forward to Inauguration Day instead of Christmas.
  • It is similar to Advent Calendar in the sense that when you’re little, December 1 seems a long time away from December 25. (When you’re in charge of shopping, planning menus, etc., it feels like barely any time at all!)
  • Advent and Christmas are all about bringing light to a dark time.
  • We are definitely in a dark time in our nation’s history, but I have to believe light is coming.


We are definitely in a dark time in our nation’s history, but I have to believe light is coming.

I think my #makedontbreak project for tomorrow will be back to sewing face-masks, which I did a lot of all summer, fall, pre-Christmas. I make them for my parents & a few others, and have a list of folks I want to make them for.

I don’t know how long we’ll all be wearing masks, but we’re not done yet.

Anyway–I’m super satisfied with how these turned out. And I didn’t stop them at Inauguration Day because I think it’s going to be awesome to wake up on January 21 and 22 and onward knowing that Joe Biden is president.

At least that is what I’m hoping and crafting toward.

boxes made of paper with the date on them, closed with twine or ribbon

4 responses to “Inauguration Day Advent Calendars

  1. Thanks from your mom – you have Grandma Marlow?s genes thru your Granmommy (they skipped over me – but you?re definitely using yours) – thank you and so proud of you – your writing abilities came thru your Marlow genes, too ??

  2. I *love* this idea and enjoyed following your progress on Facebook. The phrase “sunshine boxes” is a great one, and I think I might steal it for other times since I already use “Wonder Box” for the ones I send out at Christmastime. ❤ ❤ ❤

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s