Thanksgiving is over. The leftovers are still plentiful – turkey, stuffing, candied yams, maybe even a few pieces of pecan pie. Yes, that awkward dinner with the in-laws – or as I remember my dad wearing a name tag marked “Outlaw” at a family reunion – and life continues. As usual, there is no shortage of things to do, but those tasks are different around this time.

By Paul Koch

When I was a child, I disliked clothes shopping. You remember the days when mom would hold up outfit after outfit and have you try them on one after another to try to get the perfect size (which was usually just a little too big so that you had room to grow). Getting new clothes back then was necessary, but it wasn’t all that memorable. However, these days, getting new clothes is a lot of fun. While it’s been a while since I’ve bought a new suit, there is an awesome feeling when you wear a new outfit. The clothes can actually make you feel better. Perhaps they make you feel more accomplished or more respectable. You can buy clothes that make you feel more free or spontaneous. Clothes go far beyond being practical and protective. They can make a statement or even help you achieve your goals. There is truth in that old saying that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that clothes are the driving force in your life, but they aren’t impartial to who you are or what you want to be, or at least they can be.

By Paul Koch

No matter how progressive or cutting edge people may be, I have yet to hear anyone say that they don’t like the old hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” And why would they, this ancient hymn has been sung both in and out of the church for hundreds of years. It is the great hymn of Advent; it is the longing cry for the arrival of Christ in our midst. It has been found on the lips of God’s people from before the founding of America. It is a powerful and joyful hymn that we love to sing loud and long; well, most of it anyway.

By Joel A. Hess

Every year, a little bit of my love for Christmas dies. I don’t want it to. I hold on tightly in November. I turn up the tunes and decorate my office right after Thanksgiving. Each year, the tree goes up faster and with less ceremony. Each year, I pause less with each ornament. Each year, the season goes by faster. I barely have time to be anxious, excited, or even mournful.

By Joel A. Hess

You better watch out, you better not cry. Better not pout, I’m telling you why. Santa Claus is coming to town! He sees you when you’re sleeping…. Wow, Santa sounds scary! Why would kids be excited about this guy? Of course, speaking as a parent, this song is brilliant. What better way to get a kid to behave better than tell her she will get rocks in her stocking if she doesn’t shape up?