Thursday, December 1, 2011

Welcome, Advent

Getting older is not for sissies. I don't know who said that, but they certainly knew whereof they spoke. I may not be "old" yet (not quite 66) but it is running up on me rather than creeping.  I've got some aches and pains where ten or twenty years ago I didn't know I had places. My neck gets a crick in it when I have to look at the wall map in my office -- with my bifocal part of my glasses. And I have learned to believe in the hereafter, as in "What'd I come in hereafter?"

Case in point of the latter, I searched for an hour through four drawers and two cabinets last Thursday for a jar of turkey gravy that I knew I'd bought. I found the beef stew and chili, found the cat food, pineapple chunks, cranberry sauce and pickled beets. Found everything in the world but what I was looking for. This morning I repeated the process, this time looking for the pineapple chunks. Looked through the same four drawers and two cabinets, found the turkey gravy but no pineapple. I know I didn't eat it because I was saving it for today.  Eight hours later and too late to use it as I had intended, it showed up in the fridge, right behind the milk I got out this morning for my cereal and then put back in the same place. Things like that happen around here all the time, but I can't blame this one on the boys (or Phoebe).

The arrival of Advent is sort of like finding the turkey gravy or the pineapple, only in this case it isn't too late to use it. If I miss celebrating it today, I still have tomorrow. The iPod has Advent music on it 365 days a year, and can be pulled out with the swipe of a finger.  The only time it is too late is on Christmas Eve itself. I may have the Christmas tree up, more on the schedule I followed for years which was to put it up on Thanksgiving weekend, but I also have a virtual Advent wreath or two bookmarked on my computer. I have an actual Advent wreath, but the boys like to chew on Joseph and the shepherds for some reason. I have an extra set of colored candles in the fridge in case I need them, or in case I want to see real candle light to remind me of the celebration of the coming of the Light to the world. I have readings to do, an Advent book on my Kindle, and at last, time to sit and think about it a bit.

It's funny, but every Thanksgiving I remember that Advent is just around the corner and I do a little internal rejoicing. I can forego the turkey and crowded tables and all, but I wait impatiently for Advent. Christmas lost a lot of its fun and anticipation years ago so instead I wait for Advent. It suits me more these days, being less frenetic and more contemplative, more in line with my increasing aches and pains and disinclination to rush about decorating everything in sight, shopping endlessly and searching for the perfect this or that. Those days are over for me, thank God. Instead I have more time to be quiet, to listen, to think, to write, and those things help me focus on what the season is really about. Not to mention that some of my most favorite hymns appear only at this time of year.

So welcome, Advent. I have been waiting for you. Come in and make your presence felt as we journey to Christmas --- but not too soon, please. Let me enjoy you fully before you vanish in the choirs and bells and smells and wrapping paper and, God forbid, the appearance of Valentines in the stores on Christmas Day.

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