Today is the first Sunday of Advent — the Season of Light; the time in which we look forward to the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. I was all set to write something inspirational, once again springboarding off a poignant church service, on hope and expectations. No doubt, my time and energy would be better spent on such.
But something the pastor mentioned early on sent me off on a tangent…
I’ll confess, I have a bit of retail OCD. I’m one of those people who gets onto something odd or quirky and then, for a time, obsesses over same — feeling compelled to acquire all the things related to it. Now, some people can rightly pass that off as being a “collector” of sorts — stamps, coins, postcards. My Mom has, at various times, been a collector of all of these. (This, to go along with her dogged pursuit of our family’s genealogy — while my Dad frequently carted me along to political/campaign events, collecting campaign buttons and related paraphernalia, my Mom had me traipsing through graveyards, collecting etchings from headstones of many of our ancestors. Come to think of it, I likely come by my quirks honestly.)
I have people dear to me who collect: pigs (figurines, not the actual animals), sports-uniform-themed shirts/shorts/socks, board games (hi, David!), women’s dress hats, seashells, rocks.
I’m not so sure I can assign “collector” status to my purse phase. (I can’t even remember the name of the designer now — Emma something? These purses were hot at TJ Maxx and Marshall’s back in late 2010/early 2011, and I was obsessed.)
I rarely carry a purse anymore. But I surely did love those for a time. And don’t even get me started on office supplies — I’m dangerous at Office Depot. Cool colorful markers/folders/Post-Its/organizers? Must. Have.
I also have an obsession with calendars — wall calendars, desk calendars, word/joke/meme-of-the-day calendars. Love them. Frequently buy them as gifts — or for my own “collection.”
Advent calendars are no exception. So when the pastor this morning started out his message discussing the various Advent calendars that abound these days, my ears really perked up. I know Advent calendars. Nothing will catch my eye this time of year like an Advent calendar.
For instance, just last year, I indulged in a Cheese Advent calendar my local grocer was selling. I was so eager and enthralled by it, I purchased it in early October, anxiously looking forward to December 1, when I could start enjoying all the wonderful cheeses Ilchester had in store for me.
Alas, as December rolled around, I soon discovered the promised cheesy goodness of the calendar was a lie…
There weren’t 24 different sorts of cheeses — one for each day, leading up to Christmas. There were, sadly, only five. And they weren’t even all that great.
Not to knock the cheese/calendar-maker. Props to them for being so enterprising. Their endeavor worked. I (and no doubt many others) bought into their cheesy holiday celebration.
No, the problem lay, instead, with my expectations. I was looking to a cardboard container full of little round cheese wheels to delight me each day of December 2020, when true delight was there all along. I only had to take a moment to reflect on it.
Don’t get me wrong — I still find a measure of joy in even silly little things like commercially viable, yet spiritually devoid Advent calendars (I hear tell they have some with wine!) — but the true joy, of course, comes with the realization that even as the days shorten and winter draws nigh, Christmas — and the ultimate reason we celebrate it — approaches, as well.
May your Advent Season be filled with happy indulgences — like cheese, wine, and good cheer — and the greatest, most joyous of expectations.
Update: During my grocery store run this afternoon, I learned that the Advent Calendar o’ Cheese folk have upped their game — this year’s version sports not just five, but nine cheese varieties! (Nevertheless, I resisted.)