Growing up, Advent had been “just another season” in my Catholic eyes. I always received some sort of Advent calendar which moved me through the days, counting down until Christmas. I knew that the main colors were purple and pink, and sometimes Christmas tree green and Poinsettia red. I did not correlate the season of Advent with having to “wait” for Christmas. Sure, the connection is easy to make now, but it wasn’t important enough for me to truly understand when I was younger. Recently, I’ve been reflecting on the meaning of Advent (and of course, Christmas). When I work at Starbucks, I am inundated with Christmas décor and music. As I watch my beloved Hallmark Channel, I see Christmas movies 24 hours a day. When I go shopping for necessities or groceries or gifts, the stores act as a constant reminder that Christmas is almost here. With Christmas all around me, I noticed that it is quite difficult to focus on Advent.
But is it really that difficult? When I tried to explain Advent to myself (stop laughing at me), I thought of this: Advent is like the preparation of a surprise birthday party. You know, that time that we have when we’re waiting to pop out and yell, “SURPRISE!” We’ve seen the birthday decorations; we know the theme of the party; we know many of the guests; we already purchased and wrapped the gifts. All we’re waiting for is the guest of honor! So, there’s that excitement and joy and hope that the surprise party is well-received. However, we also have to endure all of that waiting, which seems to take FOREVER (or approximately four weeks) when we’re crouched down behind the couch. (Just imagine how long the Hebrews had to wait!!)