I have to admit I am not at all ready for Christmas, not to mention Advent, which started yesterday. I just returned from a 16-day trip to Australia, where it’s summer…tropical, warm, sunny, green. It was tough to come back to reality, to face jet lag, holiday family hoopla, gray trees and cold weather. The child in me just wants to go back on vacation. But I know this feeling too shall pass, and I yearn, as I do every year, to get ready for Christmas, to get in the “Christmas spirit,” not only with decorations and shopping and such, but in my heart and soul. So what will I do to prepare this year? How will this year be different than last Christmas, and the ones from years past, where I tend to find myself sitting in church on Christmas Eve thinking I’m really not in the spirit enough yet…and it’s already upon me…that feeling of not preparing or being ready enough. First, I think I will remember lessons learned from the Aussies…they are by nature so happy, friendly and relaxed! Their motto is “no worries,” even though they have the most dangerous animals on the planet (if the sharks don’t get ‘ya, the crocs, stingers, snakes and spiders might!). Fortunately we went swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving in their beautiful waters and lived to tell how beautiful it was! It seems there that life is an adventure that’s meant to be not only taken in stride, but enjoyed each and every day! Second, I know I need to get back to reading Scriptures and spend time in prayer and meditation to connect with God…and to thank Him and praise Him for all of the many blessings I have received of late. And last but not least, I hope to reach out to others who are less fortunate and to friends or family members who may be struggling…or at least let them know I care. I believe that now the US presidential election is over, we can can truly – as individuals and as a nation – move forward, putting all of the silly ballot recounts and protests behind to focus on what really matters: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14). Let it begin with me.