We are careful to celebrate Thanksgiving, giving the holiday its own special recognition and observance.  The weekend after Thanksgiving, however, we traditionally start decorating for Christmas–a favorite holiday for every member of our family. 

Sunday afternoon, we began the decorating.  We turned on the Christmas music for the first time, got out the tree and decorations, and set to work.  The first thing we realized is that our children are finally old enough to be of significant assistance.  JR helped S get the lights on the tree, and then JR and M hung most of the ornaments, with a little (sometimes unwanted) assistance from A and N.  M helped me get the nativity set out and up on the mantle.  That’s as far as we made it so far, but there is still some decorating to work on this week. 

Now, I get to finish up the Christmas shopping.  Like birthdays, we try to keep the gifts fairly simple, practical, and justifiable, and the “selfish”, humanist aspects of Christmas to a minimum as much as we can.  We try diligently to keep the focus of the season on Jesus Christ, recognition of his birth, and on giving to others.  JR and M have both chosen to go big this year, using their hard-earned allowances to buy gifts for their siblings, with only minimal prompting, and with true joy and excitement in their hearts.  JR bought very nice gifts for M and A, while M bought a nice gift for A.  That brings joy to this mom’s heart! 

I can’t believe it’s Christmas season 2011 already!  Where did 2011 go?  It has truly flown by.  In case you forgot, we received one of our greatest blessings of the year back in January (baby R), so I realized today, I have to buy another stocking for the mantle!