I was recently asked by a friend, “How do you celebrate Advent? I mean, we know how the story’s going to end already! How can you anticipate something that you know is going to happen?”
It’s a good question. The answer that came immediately to mind was an analogy from my childhood.
It was the autumn of 1978. I would turn 11 before the end of that year. The crispness of the season was in the air, and the leaves were changing colour. The brilliant red of the maples was especially resplendent that year. And Dad decided it was time to buy a new truck.
He knew I liked to drive; he’d had me on his lap, steering, on back roads since I was about 4. (We have differing views of what made us end up in the ditch one time!) So I got to participate in the truck-buying process.
Dad knew what he wanted: a 1979 F-100 standard cab, 351 engine (which was a bit of a lemon, as it turned out!), and a 4-speed overdrive standard transmission. And I was good with all that; after all, I didn’t have a clue what most of it meant! But at nearly 11 years old, I knew my colours pretty well. So it was up to me, said Dad, to pick the colour.
Ford had a number of colour choices even then, which probably left Henry “You can have any colour you like, as long as it’s black” Ford rolling over in his grave.
My choice was obvious: Candy Apple Red.
I still wonder if Dad thought that was a bit too sporty for him (I really should ask him!), but he went along with it. The papers were signed, the deposit handed over, and then we waited.
See, this truck had to be built; it wasn’t sitting on the lot. So there was a bit of a wait, a time of anticipation. We knew it was coming, and we even had a date – but there was a time of waiting that just built the anticipation of having a new truck.
I remember when the truck was delivered. I walked down to the dealership to get a sneak-peak at it, but it was covered in snow from the previous night’s storm! Still, when Dad and I went to pick it up, I remember beholding the beauty of that Candy Apple Red pickup. (Every time I smell Ziebart® rustproofing, I still think of the first time I got into that truck.)
Dad kept that truck for several years. I learned to drive in it, though, thankfully, I didn’t have to take my road test in it (which is another story altogether). But even today, every time I see a Ford pickup in any shade even close to Candy Apple Red, I am taken back to the months preceding my 11th birthday, and filled with anticipation all over again.
Let Advent be that for you: a time of anticipation for something wonderful that you know is coming…the birth of the Saviour of the world!
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us” (Isaiah 9.6a, NLT).