In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. - Luke 2:1-7
We have reached the top branch of the Jesse Tree that began 25 days and thousands of years ago. The celebration of the birth of a baby to an unmarried couple in a humble place becomes "Jesus is the reason for the season." Even though Jesus was probably born in April, the Church as established December 25th as the celebration of his nativity and so here we are, Christmas pageants given, presents wrapped and ready to be unwrapped, family gathered, tables groaning with food, and people saying "Thank God that's over for another year."
It isn't supposed to be a season for exhaustion -- mental, physical, financial or even spiritual. It's supposed to be a joyous occasion, as the birth of a baby is supposed to be. I find it really sort of beautifully ironic that the Duchess of Cambridge's pregnancy was announced at the beginning of Advent, and the world paid attention with, mostly, bated breath and resounding congratulations to a couple so different from Mary and Joseph. Power and privilege vs. humble and powerless, the thing they have in common is that they were/will be responsible for the health, safety and raising of the child that will have a distinctive position in the world, whether secular or sacred. The announcement takes our minds off what to get difficult Uncle George or should we send a card to Jim and Susan from whom we haven't heard in years. It puts the focus back on the true reason for the season, the birth of a miraculously-conceived child, a child who was born to be king but not with a silver spoon in his (her?) mouth or a palace full of people (not to mention an entire world) waiting expectantly for the announcement of their arrival.
What can I learn from the birth of Jesus and, indeed, the entire Advent experience? A child is the product not just of two people (or a person and God) but really from a host of predecessors, each contributing to making the child unique and special. A lot of people saying yes to a lot of calls from God, covert or overt, brought us to this moment and this event. And then there's the realization that all waiting ends -- whether for a death, an event, or a birth.
Celebrate - and enjoy every celebration.