I’ve noticed in recent years, however, that this feeling comes over me more rarely than it used to, and for shorter bits of time. I have to pursue the sense of wonder, the taste in the air, and cling to it self-consciously. Even for me, the endless roar of untethered Christmas anticipation is close to drowning out the disciplined anticipation of Advent. And when Christmas itself arrives, it has begun to seem a day not all that different from any other. Oh, yes, church and home to a big dinner. Presents for the children. A set of decorations. But nothing special, really.
This is what Advent, rightly kept, would halt—the thing, in fact, Advent is designed to prevent. Through all the preparatory readings, through all the genealogical Jesse trees, the somber candles on the wreaths, the vigils, and the hymns, Advent keeps Christmas on Christmas Day: a fulfillment, a perfection and completion, of what had gone before.I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh.
Joseph Bottum is a best-selling author of Kindle Singles on Amazon and the author of The Christmas Plains (Image/Random House). This excerpt appears here by permission of the author and all rights are reserved.