As a kid in Blessed Sacrament, I always felt that the Christmas Season started on Thanksgiving. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade culminated with the arrival of Santa, after all.
Then the day after Thanksgiving began train season, as in Lionel trains.
The religious equivalent for me was the First Sunday Of Advent.
In Church on Sundays during Advent, there was a Christmas wreath decorated with four candles. Each Sunday, a new candle was lit so that by the end of Advent, The Fourth Sunday of Advent, four candles twinkled on the altar.
It was quite festive.
Then, too, we began each mass by singing O Come O Come Emmanuel. That was always one of my favorite hymns.
So, Advent was the beginning of the Christmas Season, liturgically speaking.
The trouble is it wasn’t and isn’t.
Advent is a period of longing and anticipation. It’s not a joyful season, or at least the Church doesn’t consider it to be a joyous time. In fact, we had a priest not too long ago in East Quogue who used to urge us not to light the Christmas tree or any Christmas decorations until Christmas Eve.
Advent was not supposed to be a time to celebrate but to anticipate an event that was worthy of a magnificent celebration.
I would always object to this interpretation because I reasoned, we always seemed to Need A Little Christmas Right This Very Moment.
2020 proved my interpretation was the correct one.
Nevertheless, Eileen and I have experienced the true meaning of Advent in 2020.
About six months ago, our daughter Jeannine told us we were going to be grandparents.
Thus began our Advent.
Since that time, we waited in great anticipation. It was not without its suffering. We are here in Florida, and she is in The Bronx. In normal times we would have jumped on Jet Blue and whisked up to be with her.
Covid made this impossible back in June.
But the summer seemed to bring us a reprieve as the infection seem to wane. We made our plans to come up to New York and even timed a fourteen-day quarantine so that we would be there for the birth of our grandchild.
Of course, during this frustrating time of 2020, our plans had to be canceled. It was just too dangerous for us to travel, and in all likelihood, we wouldn’t be able to see our new baby.
Longing and anticipation won out, and no matter how close we get to Christmas, I couldn’t imagine feeling the joy we had so needed.
At about 3:30, Ethan James was born, and Christmas had come early to our family.
The joy that Eileen and I feel and his parents and his uncles, Sean and Bryan, overcame the darkness of 2020 and restored the light of hope.
All is well once again.