Sunday 30th November, 2008: the First Sunday in Advent.
My brother has developed a family tradition whereby he will, on roughly this Sunday, haul his fiancee to my parents' house and put up their Christmas tree. If you haven't seen my mother's tree, look out your window :) It stands about seven feet tall in a low-ceilinged room, and I don't know how many lights are on it — possibly more than are on the tree outside City Hall. (Actually, given the feebleness of that tree, I wouldn't be surprised.) My father likes to joke that if you listen carefully you can hear the wheel in the electricity meter speeding up.
The evening, including a visit to see my gran in the City Hospital, was a reminder that alongside the liturgy, the longing and the waiting in darkness, this joy and these lights are also true markers of the season, and — if I can say it — offer a little taste of Kingdom. There is room for laughter in the observance, an accompaniment to the hope of the day.