The lost art of anticipation - losing Advent 
Friday, December 19, 2014 at 8:31AM
Denise Morency Gannon

Yesterday, a couple of women stopped into my home to say hello. As she surveyed my home, one woman asked, "Where's your Christmas tree?" 

I showed her the Nativity scene on one of the book tables and told her that our Christmas tree will not stand in our home until the end of this week but remain unlit until December 24, lit after dusk and remain lit for 12 days. 

The woman surveyed the Nativity scene and noticed the absence of someone in the manger. 

"Where's the baby? When will you put him in the Nativity scene" she asked, completely surprised at the counter cultural shock of the absence of a Christmas tree in my home and the missing person in the Nativity scene. The other woman, a European with very little English skills in her vocabulary just smiled. She understood the absence and enough English to say, "On Christmas, at midnight." And she nodded her approval.

I enjoy a party as much as the next person. But in my opinion, we've lost the great art of anticipation in American culture because out culture tells us that the Christian counter-cultural way is ancient. Well, it is. Does that mean that something ancient cannot become something new again, cherished and lived anew? Perhaps the effect of commercialism has lured even the most faithful Christians away from the suspense that comes with waiting, like expectant parents wait for the birth of their child. Even then, because science allows us to know, many couples want to know what gender the baby will be so the nursery can be better prepared and clothes will be appropriate to a girl or boy. Because we can follow the culture of commercial Christmas, should we? 

When I read about the 'Christmas concerts' that seem to be ongoing throughout Advent in parishes, I wonder how in the world we lost Advent, which seems to be missing in most of the posts I've read, even from liturgical companies that have posted pictures of their 'holiday' parties in their offices. How did we let allow season of anticipation, expectation and holy suspense to somehow disappear? Who stole Advent?

So here's a little challenge for anyone who's Christmas trees are already lit, mantles are glowing and the romance of the 'holiday season' enchants you because of its beauty:

For one evening this week, just before Christmas, turn the twinkling lights off and remember what those lights stand for - the One who came into as the Light for a dark world on Christ-mas, not a holiday time but a holy time of prayer and preparation. Turn the music off and let the silence speak. Anticipate. Find a little piece of Advent and celebrate that you may actually recapture something wonderful and seems to be missing for so many people. 

December 19, O Antiphon  O Flower of Jesse 

O Flower of Jesse's stem, you have raised up as a sign for all peoples; the powerful stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.  

Come, Lord Jesus 

Article originally appeared on The Roncalli Center (
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