But while external signs of an observed Advent seem to be lacking, I feel like I've gleaned more from this period of preparation than in years past. I mean, there's a constant factor that's rather hard to ignore:
We're waiting for a child. A child who has been given to us by God, and who is already known and loved by Him.
While pregnancy has been full of worries and stressful countdowns at times, this month has been the most peaceful period by far. I lose focus from time to time, but in general I've never felt closer to our Mother and the Christmas story. When I feel uncomfortable, I remember that Mary felt just as much as any other expectant mother. When I start to worry about timing, I remind myself of her complete trust in God's plan. (If she could trust Him to provide when faced with a stable and manger, I should be able to resist worrying about traffic on the way to the hospital!) When I get nervous about what comes after delivery - actually caring for a baby - I think about the responsibility that she faced in raising the Son of God. And when I'm impatient to meet our daughter, I think of how that feeling must have been magnified for her.
Advent is a time of preparation and keeping watch. We are in good company.