The first snow fall of the season has taken over the region before the last leaves have fallen from their trees. Boots need to be found, hats and mittens dug up, and sweaters and winter coats retrieved. Scrapers need to be placed in the cars and snow tires installed. Winter has come one month before winter even begins, and very few really seem to mind. Business owners, shopping malls and retail outlets could not ask for a more-subtle reminder that Christmas is coming and to let the shopping begin. Outside decorations are brought out from inside, and inside decorations often include stuff brought in from outside. Families map out their calendars and friends begin to make their plans. There are grade school presentations to attend, high school music festivals, concerts and choir presentations to rest in. Airplane tickets are long purchased, special rooms and restaurants and halls reserved. Then there are those lists; gifts for each person with equity, creativity and flare; baked goods for the weekend, the eve and the special day, breakfasts and lunches and suppers all throughout. Who gets picked up when, which car goes where, when do we take the family picture, how do we get from here to there. And still, for so many, the center of the Christmas season does not get lost, God becoming one of us, dwelling among us, being in our midst. An infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, a baby lying in a manger, an event of two thousand years ago gets revisited, replayed and retold each year again. From what I can tell, few are complaining about this fresh fallen snow, as it heightens our attention, our anxiety and our anticipation, of celebrations to come. Don’t worry about those leaves still on the trees. They will fall. Blessings in your planning and preparations and celebrations of the season, for God is still with us and Jesus will come.