Saturday, December 01, 2007
Here it Comes!
Advent. From the time I was a teenager, this season grabbed me. I grew up with Christmas-hating folks. One parent was the pre-spirit Ebeneezer Scrooge and the other was Mr. Potter from "It's a Wonderful Life". This had something to do with owning a retail establishment, I believe. Many exhausting hours and much energy and spirit went into decorating the stores, while in the apartment upstairs, we had no Christmas tree after I was in about the third grade.
Don't misunderstand. My parents were incredibly generous and loving people. They just didn't have it in them to do Christmas for the public and also Christmas for the family. After third grade we started going to Florida every year. My mother would take us kids down a few days before Christmas, and my dad would muscle through until he could join us on New Year's. We were usually there for two weeks, somewhere in the Fort Lauderdale/ Pompano area. I realize I was an incredibly privileged kid in this regard. For about ten years I celebrated the New Year by diving into a pool at midnight... my idea of heaven. Still, I missed some of what other people seemed to have and enjoy.
(When I went away to college I had roommates whose parents did up Christmas in the magazine spread, old-fashioned way. I was invited to one of their homes, and told my mother on the phone. There was a short silence, then, "We're getting a tree this year." Mmmhmmm.)
Sometime in high school I discovered the books I blogged about here. "Bless the Lord" was my introduction to the prayer of the church in the Daily Office way, and through it I learned the language of Advent. I learned to love the readings from Isaiah and James, and because of my life as a churchgoer, I also learned to associate these readings with various pieces of music. I still cannot hear some of these readings without certain melodies blooming in my mind.
My love of Advent seemed to fit in with my family's offbeat way of not exactly celebrating Christmas. At a time when the rest of the world was hanging up the glitter and holly, my house was conspicuously dark and the readings were too, but they were full of intimations of light, delicious, highly anticipatory images that made me start to long for the coming Christ as a long lost lover.
As I write this the scent of pine is wafting towards me, courtesy of the fresh wreath I use for my Advent candles. (I know. I'm careful.) I take a wreath, crowd four fat pillars in the middle, and light it, doing my part to woo back the faraway sun/ Son.