Sugarfina's first-ever Advent calendar features 24 drawers each with four...

Sugarfina's first-ever Advent calendar features 24 drawers each with four individual pieces of candy like Fuji Apple Caramels, Gingerbread Cookie Bites, Sparkle Pops and more; Credit: Sugarfina

A Christmas catalog came from Macy’s the other day. I leafed through it idly. Nearly at the end was a page of Advent calendars. Among them, posing before her namesake calendar, was Barbie, the fashion doll.

What next? Two other calendars also struck me as tacky, both pushing cosmetics.

Secular Advent calendars are not new, but this assortment hit a new low.

“The countdown is on,” said the peppy ad copy. “Time to get your Advent cal. Candy, crafts or cosmetics?”

Advent cal. Really?

Growing up, we had Advent calendars, but they were gentle things, always about Jesus, with a Bible verse perhaps, a short prayer or a picture. My sisters and I would pry open the little window and read the message. Our mother would talk with us about what it said, what it meant.

Advent is the season of preparation for Christmas, one of the major holy days for Christians. This year it starts on Dec. 3. Advent is supposed to be a spiritual time.

I am not complaining that “they” took the Christ out of Christmas, but now it seems “they” have taken the Christmas out of Advent calendars. Only one on that page had the word Christmas on it, a craft calendar for kids.

The history of Advent calendars goes back to the 1850s, according to my AI search, and they came from Germany. As far as I know, they were always intended for children, whose anticipation of Santa Claus needed to be tempered with a reminder of the deeper meaning of the season.

The Barbie one comes with a doll and costs $27.19 with a coupon, $39.99 if not. I think that's a good deal. I saw the Barbie movie, with my two sisters. We liked it. I took a photo of the calendar and sent it to my sisters. One wrote back that she would never have thought of a Barbie Advent calendar. She added the palms-up emoji.

The emphasis is on fashion. What do Barbie and her fashions have to do with Christmas? Oh, I see, for a child, it’s nice to get a new doll and some outfits. And they’ll be asking for Barbie items for Christmas, I suppose. It’s marketing. At least the doll shown has a darker skin tone. Inclusive Barbie. Fine. Just don't call it an Advent calendar. Maybe it was a brilliant idea. Perhaps the person who suggested it got a bonus. Maybe sales will go through the roof.

Next to Barbie, a Benefits Cosmetics calendar is described as an “All I Want 25-day Advent calendar.” With coupon, $126.85, regularly $149. All I want? Is that the Christmas spirit? Three products are shown. I could make out the word "Pore" on two of them. All I want is for my pores to shrink, I guess.

Dominating the Advent calendar page is one Created for Macy’s, it says, called 25 Days of Beauty. That one is priced at $84.15, regularly $99. The accompanying photo shows an array of beauty products from different manufacturers. Various tubes and creams bear print too small to figure out, even with a magnifying glass. One tube, though, unmistakably yells out BETTER THAN SEX.

What the …? And, what is that product?

I wish I could have seen the meetings where these calendars were pitched. Did anyone mention the word “inappropriate”?

If you want new clothes or makeup for the holidays, go for it. But don't make an Advent calendar out of it.

This guest essay reflects the views of Long Island native Barbara Murray, a former journalist and retired inspector with the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection.

This guest essay reflects the views of XXX


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