The season of Advent began last Sunday. I'm sure my mom lit the first candle on her Advent wreath (right, Mom?)
Advent is not supposed to be the same thing as the Christmas season. It's supposed to be more somber, more a waiting hush, bated breath... With the celebrating to come after Christmas morning. If you're already tired of the retail Christmas Carols, the idea probably sounds appealing.
I am one of those apparently rare individuals who enjoys the commercial Christmas carols. For that matter, I enjoy the Christmas commercials. And Christmas episodes of TV shows, and sappy movies, and city lights displays. I'm in favor of all the gaudy, tacky, overblown celebrations that both serious atheists and serious religious people oppose. This is because I am not a serious person. But even I can overdose on all this, and find myself wishing for more understated, sincere rituals of anticipation. Like lighting candles. And opening the doors on an Advent calendar.
I'm easily amused and love surprises, so the tiny pictures revealed behind each door on the traditional calendars I grew up with are treat enough for me. But some offer stickers, chocolate, candy or toys.
Nowadays there are web-based Advent calendars, offering a new page of an illustrated story each day, or facts about Christmas around the world. Or, for an unholy marriage of the secular and religious traditions, there's the advert calendar.
But I think the traditional ones are probably more to the point. Understated, you know. Some can be beautiful.