Advent is the liturgical season of anticipating and preparing for Christmas, the birth of Jesus. Now, I don't have kids myself, nor do I want to. But I know about the excitement, and fear, of waiting for a new person who brings change and responsibility and above all, love. My godsons all had their places in my heart before they were born. This year, Advent is almost an anticlimax. I spent most of the year waiting, for my niece and for Jared's twins and for the children of my co-worker and some of my dearest friends and one of my oldest friends... Nine babies in all this year. I already know of three coming in 2014.
I haven't had much secular Christmas spirit either. It's been a rough fall, and I just haven't had it in me even to go through the motions. No cards, no decorations, no cookies, no music. I barely got the shopping done, and the last box arrived this afternoon. We opened the boxes tonight, to find what needed to be wrapped for tomorrow. There, nestled in with the uninspired choices for my family and Hugh's, were the gifts I feel excited about -- board books with dancing penguins and hippopotami, Lego wrapping paper, tiny little onesies with geeky sayings. The bigger boys will care, but the infants surely won't. Yet that's where I found the joy this year.
I listened to a Lessons and Carols service after Hugh went up to bed. The old familiar words echo inside me. Some of the music I've sung so often that I can almost see it on the page as I hear it from the choir. The layered harmonies and descents built on each other and let me slip into memories of years when the joy of preparing for Christmas saturated my soul and my heart. I wonder, will these tiny new people understand anything of my faith and traditions? Will the secular rituals, like counting the jeeps in White Christmas, survive either? Is any of it something I can even ask to bring into someone else's home?