I recently heard the idea of treating Advent, the time leading up to Christmas, as a dark time. The bright lights wait for Christmas.
This idea makes emotional sense to me.
Now is a time of increasing darkness; shopping and seasonal preparation are hectic, which I don't enjoy. I'm still working, and it's not until Christmas that I'll have time off. With my parents' difficult straits, and my son's struggles, it doesn't feel joyful right now--this is probably one of the issues of middle age. This weekend, I'm skipping a party on an evening my wife is out of town, and I'm planning just to read.
On Christmas Eve, I will attend a joyful Christmas Eve service of singing at my church, and then join my wife's family at a huge party bringing together relatives from all over. That, to me, is when the season of light begins.