Advent calendars are getting out of hand. Once, they were simply a piece of card with some flaps; a rudimentary 24-day countdown to the birth of Jesus. Then, an honest-to-God genius improved them dramatically by putting a festive-shaped piece of chocolate behind the doors. What Christmas joy.
This year, though, all bets are off. People are ramming any old rubbish into advent calendars. There are gin advent calendars. There are cheese advent calendars. There are £120 scented candle advent calendars, for crying out loud, as if there are actually people in the world who feel festive only when they are being subjected to a different smell every day.
Now, a true monster of the form is emerging: the wellness advent calendar. Imagine. Every December you creep downstairs, the hush of anticipation filling your heart as you peel back another door, only to sigh with resignation as yet another miserly fun substitute pops out and lands at your feet. What it is today? A delicious chocolate angel? No. A peanut protein ball.
There really is a protein ball advent calendar by the way, with each day offering a sugar-free, soya-free, gluten-free, high-fibre sphere of misery, designed for either those with genuine dietary restrictions or a desire to punish themselves at every turn. But it isn’t alone; there are protein calendars that come with pea isolate chocolate. There are calendars that come with a different sort of post-gym whey protein snack. There are several that just contain teabags, since the spirit of Christmas was always said to be bits of plant dust in a net.
And then, worst of all, there’s the 24 Days of Positivity calendar. Behind every door is an inspirational prompt – ranging from “respond to every call that excites your spirit” to “the pine needles on Christmas trees are edible and a good source of vitamin C”. It costs almost £16. Well done, you monsters, you have ruined Christmas. Now, don’t you have a tree to eat?