The season of Advent began yesterday. A period of time leading up to Christmas and parallel to the Lenten season preceding Easter, Advent is a time of hopeful waiting as we look forward to celebrating the in-breaking of God on Earth in the person of Jesus the Christ.
Unlike Lent, it is not penitential in nature. Rather, we are invited to engage this time with quiet expectation. The shorter days and longer nights before the winter solstice provide us the opportunity for more quiet reflection and prayer.
With Christmas just around the corner, it is a challenge to keep the spirit of the Advent season. Parties, shopping and the frenzy that accompanies holiday preparations can easily overtake the quiet, solitude and anticipation of Christmas we desire. Too often people are ready to be done with Christmas by the time it arrives, rather than enjoying the Twelve Days, as the song implies.
I would make one recommendation. Prepare for Christmas with all that it entails, but do so with deliberation. Build up to Christmas slowly; try to maintain a peaceful spirit. Schedule parties within the 12 days of Christmas, if possible. Save the bells and whistles for Christmas time which begins on the Eve, Dec. 24. Then enjoy your seasonal traditions with family and friends throughout the Christmas season.