My Christian background was not from a liturgical tradition so I had no idea what Advent was. Christmas was the big focus in December. And even then, my family would do a big thing in the morning and sometimes start taking the decorations down in the evening. Needless to say, Christmas was a let down for me.
In college I began looking for ways to enrich my spiritual life and began to look at the major Christian holidays and stumbled onto Advent. In summary, there are four weeks between the first Sunday nearest to November 30 and the Sunday closes to December 25. Each week is focused on a theme like Joy, Faith, Peace, Love, and Light. There are daily scripture readings that go along with the week’s theme and often times on Sunday, one of four candles are lit on an Advent wreath.
“Praying Advent” has been a great devotional during the holiday. It follows the four week pattern with daily verses, reflections, and spiritual practices to try out and apply the scripture to our daily lives. Having celebrated Advent many times now, Christmas is just one day in a larger season and there’s not so much pressure placed on one day. It has also helped focus on the religious themes of the season and helped me not feel overwhelmed with all of the gifts, parties, and commercialism that accompanies the Christmas season.