It almost spoils it when Christmas stuff starts showing up in stores and people’s front yards the first of November– those funny one-dimensional wooden deer with red bows or wreaths around their necks, and the blooming cactus, baby Norfolk Island pines, amaryllis, poinsettias and decorations all over the stores. Usually the funny, larger-than-life snow globes don’t appear till later, or the inflatable carousels that even play music.

But it doesn’t quite ruin it really, not for me.

Maybe my brain tunes it all out. Maybe I just don’t process it as present-day. Maybe I pass it through a “by-gone” filter so as not to spoil the sweet joy of the advent of a time so timeless that it truly does stay in my heart all year (well, most of the year). Or maybe I realize that’s just how some people open up to what is happening in an over-the-top kind of way.

Since I was a little girl I have loved this time of year and not for presents. People always seemed kinder, happier. People looked forward to something, something they were excited about celebrating. As if something so long-awaited, something that would make everything better, brighter was going to happen. And many of us were anticipating the same thing but even if we weren’t there was an inescapable aura that touched everybody.

My family would have Christmas Eve dinner. One year we piled in the car not only to go see all the houses decorated with lights and candles and wreaths but stopped to visit friends and wish them joy. Then we’d go to our church’s Christmas Eve service.

This was the best part, for me. Almost better than Christmas morning which nearly always got lost in the tinsel, wrappings and bows.

This was the moment. This was the excitement, the anticipation of something so wonderful, so vibrant and alive with hope and love that I have never forgotten how it felt. Singing out those beautiful carols, listening to the lovely prayers, the soft glow of candles and the ageless Bible story of the miraculous birth, a story that never got old.

No matter where my family lived, no matter what we were going through. Something about Christmas transcended our ills, our arguments, our differences, our angers, our disappointments. And more often than not after Christmas day we found we had moved on beyond whatever it was that had got us hung up, stuck.

There was a beauty that touched each one of us. We no longer saw or felt whatever ugliness had our pride reared up in self-righteous rightness against someone or something. It was gone. Disappeared. Vanished. Vanquished in the beauty of Something far greater than anything we harbored.

Advent. The coming of something. The brink of a moment. The event that does not end, is always coming, has never gotten old. Every year.