When I was a little girl growing up, the time leading up to Christmas was my favorite time of year. Like most kids, I was excited at the prospect of getting a long break from school, and most of all, I was excited to get presents! My family always had a very strict protocol about the proper time for opening presents. We waited until Christmas morning. My brother and sister and I would wake our parents up at an ungodly early hour and be told to go back to bed a few times before they finally got up. My dad would then shuffle downstairs to get his camera while the three of us waited with Mom at the top of the stairs, until Dad was ready for us to come down. I have no idea what all Dad was actually doing downstairs – but I do remember that it always took foreeeeeeever for him to give us the go-ahead to come down. Maybe it just seemed like an interminably long time because I was so small and impatient (as opposed to large and impatient, like I am now). But I vividly remember sitting at the top of that long, narrow staircase in my pajamas, waiting with my brother and sister, our little butts scooched right to the very edge of the top stair. I remember the electric feeling of excitement in my whole body, like a coiled up spring, just waiting to bounce down those stairs as fast as my little legs could go.
This waiting, this excitement and expectation, is what the season of Advent is all about. We are waiting with bated breath – not knowing yet what exactly we will find at the bottom of the stairs, but trusting that it will be marvellous and worth the wait.