Advent was short this year. Twenty years ago it was long. “How long till the white Christ candle will be lit,” I thought as a child. “How long till Father Christmas comes?” “I sure hope I get all the Power Rangers/Transformers that I want!” “Maybe I will not get two copies of the Ninja Turtles movie this year from Santa.” Yes, twenty years ago Advent drug on in five long weeks. Grandma in England sent me an Advent calendar several years to help mark the days with perforated cardstock. Of course then I was a bit militant about tradition as well. My Dad started it, then I took over and started by overly-dictatorial reign of collecting all the Christmas cards received by mail and piling them un-opened until Christmas morning when we would open each one at a time, reading any entrusted letters. This would continue with the 50-60 cards until all were opened and hung around on the encircling gold tinsel. For those poor greetings sent from miles away they had to wait ages to exclaim their joy…even before singing cards. Poor cards.
Advent was short this year. Thirteen years ago it was long. But at age 14 we are stuck in-between. Christmas came during my ninth grade year. I joined up with several new friends for the morning news broadcast, where my catch phrases became ‘Alrighty then’ and ‘Okiedokie’. I even had a few fans. Right, who knew that reading 3 minutes of boring school announcements would propel me to stardom and being named later that school year ‘Most Friendly’ by my class. A Christmas card arrived to my house addressed to me, written by a girl’s handwriting in maybe pink or green pen. A lot of effort was apparent by how each letter was written. Yet, the card had no return address. For two weeks I thought and thought to whom could this card belonged, but I could figure out nothing. But because we still followed our no-card-opening rule until Christmas morning by my decree, my efforts were worthless in discovering the writer. The wait was agonizing! When I finally did get to that card, I gingerly opened it to read a deep flooding of teenage girl emotions. I never spoke to her again.
Advent was short this year. Eight years ago it was long. One of my awesomest goals to become a state officer in the Future Farmers of America had come to pass and I was slowly learning to be more responsible, set a strong example for middle and high school students, and write and give speeches. For the beginning of January was planned a trip to Europe for state officers to see agriculture in other countries and enjoy traveling. I had written letters, kinda like this one here, mailed copies to Near and Far to try to raise money for the trip. For a couple months money poured in from different friends and family and random community businessmen to help me pay for this ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience’. In the end, Dad helped pay a bit towards that as well. But I could not wait for the first flight to Chicago where we were rendezvous-ing and then flying to Europe! Christmas came and went. The trip came and was awesome and went.
Advent was short this year. Five years ago it was a long one. During my time in Colorado in 2007 I met a girl. She was pretty and witty and smart. I liked her and she liked me. But she lived in another state, not Georgia where I was going back to finish my undergrad degree. So when I saw her for a few days in October when she came for a visit, I would not see her again until I flew up to spend Christmas with her. I studied hard that semester. Finals finally finished. Then I took off to the Atlanta airport to jump on the standby-passenger list. The 6pm plane flew away. Then the 11pm flew away. Next came a phone call to the girl telling her I was sleeping in the airport for the night. There was a spot on the 7am flight and I got it. The girl was not happy with my travel arrangements and neither were her parents. That was a cold Christmas.
Advent was short this year. This year at least I sort of kind of remembered it, sort of. There was no Advent calendar. The candles are still around, though. But the days were filled with holiday parties, game nights, paper writing, finals, gift shopping, sitting in long traffic lines of gift shoppers, and a lot of brownie eating. A couple weeks prior to Christmas we sang at Karis Community Church ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’. I did not wait for anything in Advent, telling the Saviour to come again and again with each chorus reprise, while my heart cared nothing for waiting but only doing all the many gadgety things I had to check off my list: buy Christmas presents, pay the power bill, write a business plan, edit statistical research data, sleep a little, watch all the tv shows in my Hulu queue before they expire, host Monday game night, pack for Georgia, harvest my plant samples…then we have mass shootings and the approaching stressful family gatherings.
Another song spoke joy into my delusion and called me to Advent, to The Waiting:
Jesus will come again to our muddled and hectic world. He will come into your crazy little world and into mine and call us to His peaceful new earth. Yet, the song calls us to take solace in His rest and safety for today and tomorrow and all the days post-Dec. 25. He will reign in us forever as the Prince of Peace, bringing peace to our lunatic lives.
May the New Year muddles and puddles not distract you from taking time to wait on the Lord.