I've always been a person who's enjoyed anticipation just as much as apotheosis. I have an inkling that this may have something to do with being Catholic. There's the pervading idea that you have to work hard to follow the Truth in the here and now because what's coming in the hereafter is truly divine (in all senses of the word) but there's little you can know or do about it. So, having faith that whatever is going to happen is going to happen, we focus on what we can get our hands on right now. Reaching out, serving others, opening our hearts, appreciating the human reality in the context of the Divine.
That idea is echoed in the Liturgical seasons; simply put: Advent is longer than Christmas.
And while I, too, can't wait to come skittering out to the den on Christmas morning with my brothers, all three of us well and truly grown but willingly and exuberantly channelling the joys of childhood while dad grins and mom smiles with that look that says, 'O, it's so good to have them home again,' right now, I really just can't wait for Advent.
Is that strange?
There's something about the season of candles, of the chill in the air that makes us bundle up. Our thoughts turn to our hearts, willing them to circulate the blood more efficiently to our fingers and toes, and to our Hearts, examining what lies within them, and what needs to be changed (and quick! for St. Nick!). I'm powerless when the haunting melodies of "Wait for the Lord," or "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" begin to play. When you sing in harmony on a minor chord, you feel the anticipation, physically. While you tiptoe on the suspension, drawing out the depth of the music, everything strains for the resolution chord, for the finish. And when you arrive, it's always softer than you expected, but resonates deeper than you could have imagined. What is it about music that can sweep you away to places you never know you held within you?
While our commodified tendencies scramble for gifts and decorations, whatever it is in us that recognizes a greater, overarching human-and-divine connection sees in the scramble the finer notes of preparation. We purchase gifts for those we love, not to prove our love, but to show our love. When you select the perfect cookbook for your friend back east, you smile and send happy thoughts her way. When you begin binding the leftover fir bows to make the front door wreath, you think of all the guests who will visit with smiles and laughter and joy.
It's a time when we begin to remember what it's like to open our hearts, when we remember what it is to love and be loved, when, overcome with great expectation, we recognize the similarities in the human condition. No matter what we believe in, we all strive to be better, we all strive to find happiness, we all find it more easily when we open our hearts. We all love.