What makes this time of year feel like Christmas to you? Is it getting those tangled lights straightened out on the Christmas tree and powering them up? Maybe it's the first carol heard at the grocery store that you find yourself humming along to as you push your cart through the aisles - or the moment your kids start hauling out the Christmas DVD's like "Charlie Brown" or "The Grinch" for marathon repeat viewings.
For me, it's coming up this weekend.
I've hosted the St. Olaf Christmas Festival for the past three years and it never ceases to amaze me what a glorious and touching festival this is. From the beginning notes in a darkened auditorium, to the Christmas story read by candlelight, to the lights finally thrown on and 500 choristers processing past me as they make their way to the risers, to the moment when the "Ollie" Choir sings its first a capella tune, to at last the final hymn - sung in the round - F. Melius Christiansen's "Beautiful Savior."
Somehow that giant choral hug signals the real start of Christmas for me as I'm sent out into the cold night with warmth in my heart!