Thursday, November 29, 2007


It is time for the oft-neglected stepchild of the liturgical calendar to make his appearance. Poor advent, the middle child stuck between the ever-dependable ordinary time child and the exuberant Christmas child. When he comes into the room he sits so quietly in the corner that he is almost not noticed at all. It’s not that he is disliked; he is just so – well – adventy. Who can compare to his big brother Christmas? He is the quiet, studious one who seems often lost in a book in a corner while his older, outgoing, good looking brother, the star of the football team and all around good guy (though maybe he parties just a wee bit too much) brings a celebration with him wherever he goes.

The worst part for advent is that his brother is always showing up earlier than he says he will. In fact, he shows up earlier and earlier every year. Advent comes home hoping to have a quiet conversation, be a little reflective only to find his more popular brother already arrived having decorated for a party and mixing the rum punch. “Hey lil’ advent, have a cup of this and tell me what you think. And get out of that purple and wrap a little tinsel around your head.”

It’s hard being the middle, forgotten, stepchild. But he has so much to offer. “Still waters run deep” so the saying goes. He is the intellectual side of the family. He gives the partying his big brother promotes meaning and hope. He is quiet, but he has so much to say to someone who will take the time to sit with him and listen.

It is hard to say no to Christmas with his hardy laugh and his constant temptations to stop yabbing so much and get on with the party. But resist him. Hold him back at least a little. He’s a big boy he can handle it. He won’t go away. He might pout, but it will be good for him. Invite advent to take center stage for just a little bit. Listen to what he has to say. He loves his big brother and his joyful anticipation can infect you. In fact, getting to know him better, you get to understand his big brother better and all will be closer because of it.

Really. He is an Okay kid. Spend some time with him.


Anonymous said...

Omg, only you could make us feel sorry for little Advent.

Even when I fought it, I have spent so many Advents with the partier-kid, while knowing his brother existed (who hangs around with their wonderful mom and dad setting up the Nativity scene, etc).

Sometimes it was due to sheer hecticness. And yes, sometimes due to apathy, but most often, just a tiredness. I even went the other way entirely, once -- I'd become a downright humbug, opting almost solely for preparing for the Reason for the Season. That doesn't work well in a family that hasn't always known that. Balance is needed.

When my husband asked if we were going to a certain Christmas party this year, I said, "You can." He'll feel badly to miss it (if he does, tho' I suspect he was hoping I'd say "no" so he'd feel obliged not to go) -- we get invited to many and turn down many, every year, but not even that one will I do, for I well know it's an occasion of gluttony and more (tho' not an orgy, orgies of old had no less food and booze than this gathering, and filthy jokes and bad language), plus these people never go to church nor did they bring their kids. They are good, kind people, but their reason for the season is entirely secular, and how often I've wished people would give such parties in Ordinary time instead.

I'll be visiting with Advent this year. There are laity-led Monday eve services at our parish. My husband went to them last year, and liked them very much. And I have tried this year to shop, wrap and mail before Advent, so that nothing steals Advent's quiet thunder. Still, I needed the reminder, and I thank you.

Adoro te Devote said...

I actually love Advent and try to treat it like a sort of mini-Lent, even giving up certain things. For example, wine. My family has begun a tradition of having a wine-and-cheese party on Christmas Eve, so if I don't drink wine at all until then, it makes the celebration of Christmas more special (as wine is a sign of abundance, etc.) And of course, if the wine occasions don't come up between now and then, well, then I have to consider other things to give up. I find that this practice helps to ground me a bit and treat this time of year specially, as it's meant to be.

My parish also has a series of Advent reflections, ie a talk given by one of our priests every Saturday after Mass. I'll miss it tomorrow because I have to be at my work parish for Mass for a youth event. I really want to go to Father's talk, so I guess this is a dying to self moment in doing what I have to do, not what I'd prefer.

Love your personification of Advent and Christmas. It's very apt.

Rob said...

-I actually love Advent and try to treat it like a sort of mini-Lent-

Actually, in the East it is called Little Lent, and it involves fasting as in the Lent before Easter.

I don't know why ours is more a meditative and penitential time, rather than a time of fasting. You can't blame it on Vatican II, I see no evidence of special advent observations even in my 1962 missal (besides the obvious masses).

It is a sad little nerd in the liturgical calendar, but it is Lent's little brother, not Christmas's. May you have a holy and blessed Advent, Fr. V!

Melody said...

It's funny how we all have a different "take". Maybe it's because I'm a woman, but I've always thought of Advent as a female. Kind of like Mary of Bethany; contemplative and reflective. Unlike the Christmas "Martha", who is bustling around making cookies, wrapping gifts, practicing music, decorating the church. In the Gospel these two ladies lived in the same house. With me, they are two parts of the same soul. At times I need to be Martha, but I have to remember that Mary chose the better part.

Fr. V said...

I think you guys just took care of all of my advent homily prep. ;>)


Adoro te Devote said...

melody ~ you know, you're right...Advent has a more feminine feel to it. It's like the softer side of Lent.

Hmmmm....I'm sensing a children's story somewhere in this....