Here's what a 70 year-old Jewish atheist who loves chocolate (Fig. 2) does to an advent calendar (Fig. 1).
"You DO realize what an advent calendar is, right?" I asked as I watched my mother claw apart the flat cardboard box that held two dozen individually wrapped one-inch squares of fancy chocolate behind its tiny panels.
"Yeah, but whaddya gonna do?" she queried back in her thick Bronx brogue. She scattered the chocolate pieces onto a plate and presented them for consumption to me and our visitors before rifling through and selecting a choice square for herself.
"I think this might be disrespectful," I suggested to the same woman who bought and ate a gyro from an Arabic street meat vendor in northern Manhattan on Yom Kippur, the annual Jewish holy day of fasting and atonement.
"C'est la vie!" she shrugged through a mouthful of chocolate. I could tell she thought that any loving God would approve of decimating an advent calendar in the interest of accessing all of its chocolate at once.
Basically my mom's attitude toward both chocolate and religion is the same, and can be summarized in one word: