Although Christmas still seemed that it was a long ways away, I knew it was coming Christmas when the Sears Christmas Catalog arrived. The mailman delivered it around the time of the World Series. The “Wish Book” as it was known was filled with wondrous toys. My brother, sister and I would spend hours looking and thinking about how we might utilize these toys to bring playing to a new level. Although wonderful, over time I learned that the toys never quite lived up to the promises they made in the glossy colored pages of the catalog.
The next marker that reminded us that Christmas was coming was Thanksgiving. The two days off from school was a like a foretaste of the long Christmas holiday. We stuffed ourselves with good food, like at Christmas, but there were no toys. We’d have to wait another month.
After Thanksgiving, it was as if we were in a prison keeping marks on the wall accounting for the number of days till released. But we didn’t have to literally keep the marks; we just had to look at the newspaper each morning. The Wilmington Star News, the newspaper from my hometown, would start right after Thanksgiving with a little box on the top of the front page showing Santa with a sign indicating how many shopping days we had till Christmas. It was exciting as a child to watch the numbers dwindle down. This was in the age when nothing was open on Sundays, so they excluded that day. You only had six days of shopping a week back then and there weren’t nearly the options as we have today. There was a strip mall with Sears on one end and J. C. Fields on the other, and I think a Roses (a five and dime store) in the middle. There were more options downtown, but that was a big trip. Once, during the holidays, we’d go to Belk
Of course, all this was preparation for getting stuff. Then, on Christmas Eve, as the stores closed, we’d go to candlelight service at church and be reminded once again of the reason for the Season.
According to the Christian Calendar, we’re now in Advent. It’s a season of waiting and preparing, of recalling Jesus’ birth and being reminded of his return. It’s a season with some of my favorite hymns. For some weird reason, I find myself drawn to music in minor keys. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel reminds me that change is in the work. But my favorite Advent hymn is “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” To hear the tune “
May you have a blessed Advent and a joyous Christmas.