Advent is the season leading up to Christmas. It's a season of waiting, of pregnant pause, of calm before the storm of Incarnation.
In my house growing up, one of our consistent holiday traditions was arguing over when to put up the tree. It never went up earlier than a couple weeks before Christmas, usually much later--my father insisting that it was not only incorrect to put it up earlier but also crass. These days, I get what he was saying--decorations in the stores in October, commercials telling us to "buy, Buy, BUY", everything pointing us to money spent=happiness--it's horrible. And the "Jesus is the reason for the season" folks aren't any better. What does that even mean? My experience of the phenomenon is that it's just as empty as the consumerism it rejects--often it involves t-shirts and buttons you can buy to make your point.
There's a small movement happening out there called the Advent Conspiracy. The idea is that the point of Christmas, to Christians at least, is relationship and worship. How many sweaters or cheap candles have you bought for friends and family members simply to give them a thing? How do you show your love for those people in real terms? How much time do you spend with them? In the days after Loving Husband's last grandparent died, we're asking ourselves, "What's more valuable than time spent?"
Check out this video from the Advent Conspiracy folk. It's really pretty (well-designed, that is, for the design dorks out there) and quite powerful. How can we make a difference?