When we were in Leavenworth, Washington in late summer I went to the remarkable Kris Kringl shop. I was looking for an advent calendar. As a child, a friend of my parents had sent us one from Germany, a traditional street scene in a Bavarian village with all the stores bedecked with boughs of greenery and people carrying packages and Christmas trees across the town square. It had a sprinkling of white glitter on it, like fairy snow. We had loved it for years, competing to be the one to open the window for that day, searching through all the ornamentation to find the right numbered door.
Now I was in a Bavarian town that looked like an advent calendar itself, minus the sprinkle of glitter. It reminded me of my wish to find a real, authentic German calendar. I wanted to buy one for my friend who now has grandchildren coming to her house –it could be both a souvenir of our trip and a teaching tool for the grandkids. Leavenworth seemed like the place to have them, being German and all. And they had a store dedicated to Christmas goods! Perfect.
So I went to the Christmas store, Kris Kringl. There I found every conceivable collectible: fairies and sugar plums, gingerbread houses, elves, Snow Babies and Santa Clauses. There were hand blown glass ornaments and carved wooden ones, fabric elves and crystal icicles. There was vintage Christmas with Lucia brides and 1950’s diner scenes.
I wandered around between the Jack Frosts and the crystal snowflakes looking for an advent calendar. Finally I asked a sales clerk. “Oh, is that religious? That’s upstairs, at the back.” I couldn’t find the stairs and she said “The stairs are over in that corner behind the door”.
So upstairs at the back behind the door I went. No advent calendars here. Some Fontanini nativity pieces, relegated to the back of the
inn store. In a store about Christmas there was very little of Christ’s birth. I felt the chill of “No room at the inn.”
I like elves and sugar plum fairies and snowmen and snow globes, don’t misunderstand me. I just want it to be remembered that the reason for Christmas is that Christ came to earth. The angels filled the sky to announce it to the shepherds and a star led the learned men from different countries to welcome the new king. All of history pivots on this event, and it needs to be more than “Upstairs, at the back.”