The thing had to be 100 years old. At least.
It was a box. Sort of. Maybe a cabinet. Kind of. It was about two feet wide and about two feet tall, but it wasn’t quite square. Maybe just a touch taller than wide. It was a few inches deep. The box was made out of dark, smooth wood, not varnished at all, but still polished and clean, like it had been rubbed over by scores of hands through the years.
And it had 25 little doors with 25 little metal hinges. There were magnificently ornate numbers carved into each door, from one to twenty-five. It had dust caked in the corners. There were spider webs across the back of the cabinet. The whole thing looked like it had been buried in an attic for generations.
“Isn’t it gorgeous?” Jack’s Mom said. Well, Jack’s “new” Mom anyway. Janet.
“I found it in the attic,” she said.
Jack looked at her like she was an alien. “What is it?”
“An advent calendar. It’s for you,” she said.
“All right,” Jack said. And it can go right back into the attic for all I care, Jack thought.
“Only the first door will open,” Janet said. “I can’t seem to get the rest open.”
“Great. Could it be more useless? I mean that’s the whole point of the thing, right?” Jack said. “You’ve got to open it up to put stuff in there for me to find. Like money, I hope.”
Janet’s smile faltered only slightly. “Well, there was an old photo in the first door,” she said. “Maybe there will be more treasures if you can get the other doors open.”
Jack nodded then walked into his room, closing his door behind him and leaving the advent calendar at his new mother’s feet.