Welcome to Advent! At the risk of sounding "triumphalistic," I feel sorry for those Protestant friends who effectively ignore Advent and jump right into the Christmas season. Once Christmas day is done, phhfffft. It's done.
However, when you observe Advent through fasting, alms giving, prayer, and the like, come Christmas, it's like an explosion. It's build up, build up, build up, and wham! And you get to bask in the season (which officially ends February 2) for weeks. It's awesome. I used to do it the way most of our society does it, and I would never willingly go back.
But, anyway, I was thinking today about Advent, and how alms giving is part of it. And the thought struck me that when we give alms -- even if it is the alms of our time to someone who is lonely, the alms of our hospitality to someone who is socially awkward and doesn't normally get invited into people's homes, the alms of our care to someone who is low, the alms of our wisdom to someone who has adopted a mindset that will not lead to true happiness -- we do more than simply give.
What we also do is we reverse the feeling of isolation and hopelessness that many feel. And sometimes that is more important than anything we give in any sort of material way.
And to you, I give the alms of song. Here is a traditional French Advent carol. I hope you come to love it as much as I do. Have a great day.