For us Catholics, we are in the season of Advent, a season of joyful anticipation for the celebration of Christmas. And with eight small children, it is definitely full of anticipation.
I have been asked almost every night since Thanksgiving, how many days there are until Christmas, and to the children’s relief, the numbers I give have been steadily decreasing. Lately I have been questioned less. I think the reason is a string of numbered stockings that was given to us. As they are numbered one through twenty-four, they are a kind of count-down from the beginning of December to Christmas morning. So the Baby Jesus from our Nativity set is slowly making his way from stocking to stocking until on the big day when he is placed, with all the excitement of children, in the manger.
Now the girls have a special kind of anticipation. All four are old enough to have been invited to help Wife wrap the gifts intended for me. So from time to time,
I am met with a giggly little girl who tells me, “Daddy, I know what we got you fo’ Christmas.”
To which I respond, “What did you get me?”
And to show their loyalty to their mother, they say back, “I’m not tellin’.”
And I am left where I started, neither more informed nor more ignorant. But I’m about to make my own circle of secrecy. When I get Wife’s presents, I’ll also invite the four girls to help me wrap them. Then they will go to Wife, and with a smugness less than what they would show to me, they will inform their mother that they know what she is getting for Christmas. But unfortunately, unlike myself, Wife loves it. Come to think of it, this may backfire.
For Wife thrives during Advent. With saints, feast days, and Advent candles, she is in her element. I think she likes having a real reason to keep secrets from me. She claims they are “surprises.” A whole season totally devoted to “surprises!”
I like to claim my favorite holiday as the Thanksgiving weekend. The children’s is Christmas. But Wife has the whole Advent season. Leave it to the Catholic Church to give my Wife an entire season all to herself.