You have to hand it to them: the secular world out-Advents those of us who actually celebrate Advent! I have noticed Christmas decorations, coffee cups, and background music appearing in the city a good month before the liturgical season of anticipation begins. You could blame it (as I often have) on our consumeristic society, but it also reflects that fact that we are a people who love anticipation and preparation, and we love to celebrate. The whole world over there are billions of human souls waiting, with all sorts of hopes, for Christmas every year, even if many have forgotten the “Reason for the Season.”
How blessed are we who know and who believe, and who know how to wait! How much lovelier it is to sing, “O Come, Divine Messiah!” than “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”! As soon as all the secular reminders start appearing, I begin to long for the real Advent and for all the liturgical signs of anticipation and preparation. A gingerbread latte might remind me that Christmas is a time for treats; sales advertisements might remind me that Christmas is a time for family and gifts; but purple reminds me that I have been given the chance to repent of my sins and merit eternal joy, and an Advent wreath reminds me that when the time was right, God sent His only Son into the world to teach us how to live and to be the Sacrifice that unites us all to Himself as members of His family.
We build up hopes and we are not disappointed because even if we don’t get the presents or the perfect family harmony we wanted, we get the Christ Child to hold forever. We are not sick of “Joy to the World” because we have been singing, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” We do not find ourselves satiated on all things Christmas because instead of extending some sort of joyous, winter feel-good festival over two long months, we have been waiting — fasting, praying, and waiting for Jesus, for the Bridegroom.