In the Christian tradition, the season of Advent heralds Christmas and starts on the Sunday closest to November 30 and continues for four Sundays.
Being Catholic(ish) . . . we made up our own rules. Thus, Advent started on December 1 (I never could quite figure out why some years I had more windows to open on my Advent calendar . . . ). Every year, Mom would come home from work with my Advent calendar (and even mailed them to me long into my thirties). Whether she brought my calendar home on December 1 or 3 or Thanksgiving . . . it didn't matter and the season of glee had begun.
Every day I'd pop open a little window to see what was inside. There was no looking ahead - otherwise God would know you cheated! That's it - nothing but anticipation and a little sparkly picture of something different every day.
It was our little tradition and it was a daily reminder of the spirit of Christmas . . . wonder, joy, traditions, love, family.
To honor Mom this year and share this tradition with you, I've posted links to some online Advent calendars:
A Bach Christmas calendar
Advent around the world calendar
Advent history and traditions calendar
Christmas stocking Advent calendar
Medieval Advent calendar
North Pole advent calendar
Perhaps you'll start your own tradition and pick one up at the card store on the way home . . .
Thanks, Mom. You still are the spirit of Christmas.