I have a love for Christmas. The celebration of the birth of Christ and the beauty and wonder of the season make it "the most thrilling time of the year. In recent years, however, the season has been accompanied by a growing irritation. Every year "Christmas stuff" comes out earlier and earlier, creeping all the way back to early fall.

As a child I can remember that Christmas used to be confined to December, but now we find radio stations playing Christmas music in early November. Stores begin advertising Christmas specials in October, and Christmas candy appears in late September. If we are not very careful, this growing deluge can numb each of us, even sour us to what should be a season of gratitude and awe.

When this irritation begins to rise in my spirit, I try to do one thing: I am reminded of what Christmas means, who Jesus is, and why He came. I remember the love and grace of a forgiving God who rescued us by sending his Son to die for us.