What would revive the Christmas spirit for you and restore the peace and joy of the season? Professor Carol’s prescription is a simple one that has been practiced for centuries: a thoughtful observance of Advent, a season of preparation and reflection.

Professor Carol’s Advent Calendar has appeared on the web for several years with daily essays on tradition and culture, art, music, and literature. With humor and insight, she explores the history behind our customs of singing, decorating, feasting, and fasting. She retells the stories of roses and stars, saints and symbols, legends and lore that sparked our imaginations as children. She inspires with reminders of the artistic and natural beauty that surrounds us. Many of those essays are collected here inJourney Through Advent.

The great wealth of our cultural and artistic traditions, both sacred and secular, has not lost its magic. But we are in danger of losing our faith in them, and with them our sense of respect and wonder. Only by keeping the traditions and passing them on to our children can we avoid the numbing effects of commercialism and triviality that has crept into our holiday observances.

You don’t need paper and scissors. You don’t need a musical instrument or better chinaware either. You just need an appreciation for beauty, a willingness to set the distractions aside, and a readiness to welcome the Light of Christ on Christmas morning.