I don't ever remember celebrating Advent when I was growing up. I think we did in a round about way, but we never called it advent. A few years ago I read this great book called Girl Meets God. The author converted to Christianity from Judaism, and her observations on the Advent season are quite delightful:
"It is Advent, the weeks before Christmas, which means we are waiting for Jesus. It is the season of expectation, of being primed and pumped, the season during which you are supposed to cultivate longing for Him, the type of longing you feel when you beloved has been out of town for three weeks but you know he is coming home tonight." (p. 34)
In the years to follow my understanding and insight into the Advent season has increased. Last year the Lord really spoke to me that our lives should be kept in a constant state of advent, because by doing so we acknowledge every day that He's going to do what he said He's going to do: come back! This year I already realize that I'm being given a tangible way to experience advent.
My family is coming for Christmas. This is a really big deal in many ways, not the least of which is that this is the first time any family will have come to stay with Dusty and me as a married couple. I have literally been putting thought and planning into this for a few months because I'm just so excited. And today I really feel like the Lord spoke to me and said that this year for Advent he's giving me a physical, experiential way to celebrate. Because any preparation or expectation that occurs in me as I'm awaiting the arrival of my family can directly correlate to the preparation and expectation that our lives take on as we wait to celebrate Christmas, and ultimately as we wait to meet Jesus face to face.