As a kid, the 24 hours leading up to Christmas were always the longest day of my life. Time fought to stand still, grudgingly giving way to the movement of the clock's hands.
I wanted the day out of the way in time for the great vigil - an event I never stayed awake long enough to observe: the surreptitious delivery of presents by a visitor in the night.
Now, Advent, that four-week waiting period for Christmas, has assumed its rightful time and place in my adult life.
Advent comes with instructions that are often hard to follow: Slow down, be quiet and meditate on the real reason for the season; prepare for what's to come.
Try doing that this tumultuous year.
Advent, which ends Saturday, got started on Nov. 27 at my St. Mary's Episcopal Churchwith a ceremonial lighting of "Hope," the first of four candles on the Advent wreath.