This has been a hectic year, probably for many of us, and as Advent approached, I was looking forward to some calm and quiet to still my soul and help me reconnect with what is most important to me. Soon after Advent began, I learned that my plan to spend a quiet Christmas week in Washington would not work. My new husband was not able to get the following week off so we will be going to Florida a week earlier than planned to be with his family, some of whom I’ve never met and none of whom celebrate Christmas. This development has made me think about what Christmas really means to me, and consequently, what exactly I’m waiting for during Advent.

The answer that feels true to me is hope. God calls us to hope that tomorrow will be better than today, and that we will do our best to make it so. That when we are faced with adversity (or just a change in plan, which for a planner, is adversity!), we hope that we will learn and grow from the experience. That when sadness or frustration or anger consumes us, we will know that tomorrow will come and we will feel differently. That those uncomfortable feelings not only make us stronger, they make us more compassionate and loving towards one another. And that a little baby born in a manger can inspire countless people over millennia to be better human beings.

This Advent, my hope for you and the world is that you will find comfort and inspiration in your faith, trust in God, and know that there are brighter days ahead. May the birth of Christ be a reminder that it is our calling as Christians to do our part to make it so.