by Karen Bellenir

Last month, my husband and I planned a getaway for just the two of us. Life had been unusually hectic, and I needed salt water to renew my spirit. We decided a short break at the beach would help restore my calm and perspective.

During the couple of weeks between when I booked our lodgings and when we left on our trip, the serenity of the shore started to leak into my days. From my office I was sure I could hear the distant roar of the surf. I could momentarily close my eyes and imagine sunshine sparkling on the water. I could take a deep breath and recall the smell of salt spray. If I wriggled my toes inside my shoes, the absence of sand made my feet feel somewhat incomplete.

I relished the momentary mental escapes I experienced by conjuring scenes from memories, but planning the trip also involved active work. There were long hours in my office making sure everything was caught up and arrangements to be made in case urgent items arose. I had to ferret through the closet to find my beach shoes and investigate the likely weather forecast. Then, of course, there was the actual packing. My husband had his own litany of tasks. Clearing his desk, finishing maintenance items around the house, stopping the mail, making sure the car was mechanically prepared, and finally loading our luggage.

All this hubbub of activity didn't feel like extra work. It wasn't onerous, but exciting. The preparation was part of the thrill. Anticipation built.

Then the day arrived. I found myself standing among the gulls with my feet in the waves. The sun sparkled, the wind blew through my hair, and everything I'd eagerly waited for was finally at hand.

This is also how the season of Advent makes its presence known to me. I suddenly realize Christmas is coming, and there's a flurry of work to be done in preparation. Planning and arranging events. Concerts and parties. Contemplation. Introspection. And, yes, there's baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping, and mailing.

Anticipation. Christmas is coming. A child will be born on a silent night, and in the morning everything we've waited for will be at hand.

This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Observations: A Pier Press® Newsletter. You can access the archived issue here, and if you're not already a subscriber, click here to sign up. It's free.