And the season has arrived. Already.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. The candle of hope will be lit in many churches, and I, for one, will likely be in one of those congregations. And I know that little stir I will feel somewhere deep in my soul.

Hope, season or no, is a good thing. I believe it is the single element able to change our life situation – or accept peacefully what can’t be changed.

So maybe, if hope were something that could be bought, or sold, I would have been out among the crowds fighting, clawing and willing to harm those vying for the same thing, especially at a bargain price last weekend. Of course it can’t be bought or sold, but neither can love, or apparently compassion.

What are we shopping for? I forget. A friend and like mind told me, “I hate everything about Black Friday, including the name.

“I get it,” he said. “But why can’t they call it ‘Green Friday?’ That still explains the money angle, but it’s not so … dark or depressing sounding.”

I’ve used this space before to express my true dislike for the frantic indulgence of frenzy shopping the Friday after Thanksgiving. Don’t even get me started on the fact many stores have rolled back the early shopping start to Thanksgiving.

Let’s see, the thought process here would be to be thankful for the abundance we have then race out and buy more stuff?

Tell me I don’t understand and I’ll tell you about my pregnant daughter-in-law, who, two years ago after midnight on black Friday went to Walmart for antacids and was almost knocked to the ground by shoppers in a race to grab $9 bed sheets. Shoppers who may (or may not) have had “Keep Christ in Christmas” bumper stickers on their cars. And yeah, as a matter of fact, that was in Brownwood, Texas.

To coin a popular Facebook phrase, “Just saying.”

I don’t mean to be harsh, or critical. As long as I don’t have to be out and among the Black Friday crowd, I can respect those who choose to be. Certainly I would think all of us want a better economy, and to that end, I can be grateful to those who were out in it doing their part to boost the economy.

But let’s call that economics, let’s don’t call it Christmas.

If I could be anything I wanted to be or have anything I wanted to have, today, this minute, I could narrow the list to one thing. That is to have hope.

I am blessed to be hopeful. I always have been able to be, and I know it has made my life better, lessoned my struggles in ways I don’t really understand.

Hopeful, I guess, for everyone in the world, or at least my wide circle of friends and family (for whom I am very thankful), would have this season those small moments of quiet, with those comforting “all is well” thoughts.

What do they say? Hope is a wish carried on angel’s wings.

Then I wish for you to have enough, enough to cover your needs and a little bit more than enough to share with those who do not have as much.

I wish for you the discovery of a “Grinch”-less and Merry Christmas, summed up in this favorite Dr. Seuss storybook quote.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow,

stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?

“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”  

Finally and without qualification, I wish for you something to do, someone to love and something to hope for. C.S. Lewis said, “Our greatest moments of beauty, adventure and intimacy in this life on earth are hints that God gives us about our true home in heaven.”

I wish for you those heaven on earth experiences, where the spirit swells inside and the peace passing all understanding takes its place, filling your heart with joy.

And I hope you find all of those things right where you are, with ones you love without the urge to go shopping for them where they are not.