No way around it, 2020 is a rugged year. Near the end of November I was so tired of it (like everybody else on Earth) I was on the verge of saying No to Advent Bowl. It just seemed like too much work, like it wouldn’t make a difference. I wanted to stamp my feet and whine I don’t want to! Fortunately, a couple of friends who remembered my Advent Bowl adventure last year nudged me to do it again.

Grudgingly I typed up my list, twenty-four lines for twenty-four days. My Advent Bowl tasks tend to fall into three categories: charitable, self-care and festive. Last year I learned that simplicity was key. Don’t put something in Advent Bowl that has to be done on a day that a particular business is open instead of the day it’s drawn, for example. Beware of tasks that involve too much time or too many steps or have too many moving parts, because life will definitely get in the way!

I have help dispatching my Advent Bowl duties, of course.

#21 “Wear your new boots” was my idea.


Advent Bowl, December 1 2020: #21 Wear your new boots!


And a good one, Lily. Back in October I bought a cute and comfortable pair of low boots, but I’d only worn them once. I have it in my head that wearing something new needs an occasion to go with it, and we’re darn short on occasions this year. Happily, I drew #21 on December 1st, the day of my hair appointment. It was an occasion of sorts, having my head and feet simultaneously looking their best.

You haven’t drawn any of mine yet.

Sadly, no, 9, but I happily anticipate #3 “Buy yourself a treat at Patisserie.”

I was hoping #20 “Try a new recipe” would turn out to be more interesting.

Really? I thought it was good.

I liked the Bacon-y Bok Choy, too, Lily. And don’t worry, 9, we still have #11”Bake something for a friend.” I promise I won’t put any cabbage in it.


We’ve drawn two of the charitable tasks so far: #10 “Contribution to food bank” and #9 “Contribution to animal shelter.” In the festive category, for #18 “Read a Christmas story/chapter to the cats” we selected Chapter Five from The Wind in the Willows, Dulce Domum. It’s the part where the field mice come to Mole’s house and sing a Carol. Wednesday was #2 “Put lights on something.” All morning I debated: on the mantle or on a cat?

Don’t call the animal protective society, she’s kidding about the cats.

It’s amazing what magic a single string of white lights can create on a dark winter day. Not that it’s quite winter yet, but it will be soon. This year on the winter solstice there’s a special event that involves light, a phenomenon called the Christmas Star, which is really the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn low in the southwestern sky, visible about an hour after sundown. We’ll take a drive that night to where there’s not much light pollution to get a better view. It should be visible several nights before then, too:

One way many of us are meeting with friends and family is through Zoom or other video call apps. Today’s Advent Bowl selection is just the thing for today’s 1 PM and 4 PM Zooms: #6. “Wear something pretty.”


Advent Bowl 2020 calendar, so far. . .


Why is it so hard to remember that connection to the world and joy in life are available to us even in dark times, through the simple but sometimes hard to flip emotional switch of choosing a life of connection and joy? Psychology, some of it, anyway, attributes this to our survival instinct as a species: be poised for the bad stuff in order to be ready, always, to fight or flee.

Instead, why not opt for peace and staying in the room? Perpetually waiting for “the other shoe to drop” is a sure recipe for fear and anxiety. Who needs it? What if, even for one day, every human on Earth opted for Peace on Earth, as many holiday cards, songs and sermons advise?

I don’t know either, but I’ll keep trying. And soon, we will experience the return of the light on a celestial level. Remember to look for the Christmas Star on the winter solstice. Remember that there are light-filled days ahead.

If the challenge of staying positive seems too great, I highly recommend Advent Bowl- -followed up as needed with Epiphany Bowl, Groundhog’s Day Bowl, whatever Bowl inspires you. A simple prompt to look outward, with joy, can do a lot to lift the darkness.

Wishing you peace, love- –

And really cool presents! What are you getting me?

That’s classified information, 9, until the 25th. And I know you know that, while presents are fun to give and get, it’s the love and care behind them that make the magic.

I know. But you make it sound so corny.

Yep. That’s the holiday way.

Advent Bowl 2020!


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