Today is the Third Sunday of Advent, which is also called Gaudete Sunday. "Gaudete" means "Rejoice!" in Latin, as in "Rejoice in the Lord always!" (Philippians 4:4).
This Sunday is when we light the pink/rose candle on our Advent wreaths, which represents the aspect of joy in the Advent season.
Advent is about preparation for Jesus' coming, both his birth as a baby and his return at the end of time. Much of that requires sober self-reflection, but as we see in Mary's proclamation when she finds out she's pregnant: there's a great deal of joy to be had, as well.
When I searched for an image to accompany this post, it was very difficult to find anything that is particularly Advent-y. There were lots of Christmas trees, white candles, and red candles—not many purple and pink candles or green boughs without adornment.
The temptation to skip straight to Christmas is enormous. After all, the music is already on in all the stores, and preparing for Christmas takes up so much of our mental energy.
Our Advent traditions hopefully help us to remember to slow down and remember that preparing for Christmas is not just about checking people off our shopping lists. We're invited to prepare our hearts and minds for God to break into linear time and shatter the power of death. And that time of preparation is about reflecting seriously... while also leaving plenty of space to rejoice!