I nanny for a wonderful six year old girl and ten year old boy. I spend a lot of time in the car with them, picking them up from school and driving them to and from who knows what. I’ve developed a great appreciation for my mother and all other working moms in the world. But anyway. The other day I was in the car with the little girl and we were talking about Christmas. She’s been asking me for weeks how many days there are until Christmas, and how long that is, and if it’s coming soon. She has a list of (I am not making this up) twenty three things she wants for Christmas written on the wall of her play area.

Last week in the car, she again asked how long until Christmas. I answered, and then she said, “How long until Christmas eve?” I responded with one day less than however long it was until Christmas. She said, “That’s really soon! And Christmas eve is almost better than Christmas.”

I was shocked. Then I realized that some families open presents on Christmas eve, so I asked, “Why is that?” And she responded, “Because you only have one more day until Christmas. And you know you’re going to get presents tomorrow and so you can be excited all the time.”

By now, I was quite intrigued. To push her little first grade mind a little, I said, “So Christmas is better because you know it’s coming? Like, it’s better because you get to get excited for and hope for presents before, and it wouldn’t be as good if it were a total surprise?”

“Yeah!” she responded.

“But what if, what if I told you I was going to give you a present sometime soon, but I didn’t tell you when? What if you didn’t know how long it was until Christmas, but you knew that Christmas was coming? Would that still be good?”

“Yeah! Last year, when I was in kindergarten, I didn’t know when Christmas was. But then we put up our tree and I knew it would be soon. And it was still good. And on Christmas eve I knew it was almost Christmas.”

Well, friends, there you have it. This lovely six year old understands advent, even if she doesn’t know it yet. Christmas wouldn’t be as good without Christmas eve, without the longing and expectation. I pray that you would appreciate that this week and give thanks in the in between.