I just wanted to say that I am ridiculously excited about Advent this year. I kind of wish I thought of it as more penitential, but the time of preparation and waiting excites me. I think it is because the importance of the liturgical season of Advent was impressed upon me as a child. We never put up our tree until a few days before Christmas and sometimes did not even decorate it until Christmas Eve. We also did not listen to Christmas music until Christmas Eve. It was all very exciting when it finally came.
Instead we did the Jesse Tree readings daily, had and Advent Calendar, and lit our Advent wreath at dinner every night. M. and I are doing the same things now that we have a family together. I am realizing the importance of having these traditions to mark the different liturgical seasons of year and the specific holy days. I think because I have done them my whole life, Advent would not seem the same without these traditions. M. and I hope to implement traditions in all the important seasons. I wonder if doing something as simple as eating Italian when it is an Italian saint’s day would be a good way to honor a saint’s day.
It seems that there is a human need for these sorts of things, and it is expressed the way certain people excessively decorate for different seasons and holidays. I could explore this more here, but I don’t quite have my thoughts together and do not want to claim extreme points of view without a clearer way to express them. The basic idea is that the Church’s liturgical year satisfies a human need for the cycle of the year, the changes of season, the sacramental value of decorations in the home, work place, stores, and places of worship. They are all connected and are much more than physical decorations. They speak to the whole person. What would Advent be without the sign of the wreath and the empty manger? A lot of people live without that. For them Advent is Christmas decorations and it ends with the presents. For the Church, Advent is the waiting and the time of Christmas is longer. As the four seasons change, so do the liturgical seasons pass on, and we remember and wait for the Lord to come again.