Capitalism is never more insistent than at Christmastime. Black Friday email blasts and commercials start well in advance of Thanksgiving; Christmas sales are popping up every time I open a social media app; Christmas themes saturate commercials.
But there is something that I gave into when I went grocery shopping with my daughters this past week – we love doing some sort of countdown (an advent calendar of any sort – though we’ve grown weary of the so-called chocolate ones that are really pieces of wax in disguise). You may have seen these – various themed 15-Days-Of-Socks. Since we’re Harry Potter nerds, we chose that. And since we really must begin at Thanksgiving and there are nearly 30 days until Christmas we had to get the Elf one, too!
There is a fair amount of irony in all of this – the season most lucrative to commerce, nearly entirely focused on money and things, propagates even as we sing Christmas songs (Last Christmas, I gave you my heart… All I want for Christmas… ) It is also the time I most struggle to find peace.
So Advent seems to have started sometime in the fourth century CE. Like Lent, it began as a preparation for being baptized and making one’s Baptismal vows. It is meant to be a season of prayer and fasting. confession. simplicity. It is meant to be 40 days of removing the superfluous in our lives so that we can be intentional about our belief: “We believe in Jesus Christ.”