And soon comes Christmas. Some people are still trying to get ready. Others have been at it quite a while, which is the best way. A few have waited until the last possible moment - they will be frantically casting about today, which is the worst way.
Early or late, none of this is in keeping with Christmas if another kind of preparation is neglected - that of the mind and heart.
That means living the spirit of Christmas, which calls for more than an exchange of cards or a simple verbal salutation to friends and acquaintances, and more than buying the first thing that comes into view for a loved one.
The rewards of living the spirit of Christmas are more valuable to our souls than any tangible thing we may give or receive this season.
One reward comes when the gift is given with no thought or expectation of return. This is the anonymous gift which, like virtue, is its own reward. To earn it, we must give to those agencies which have in their charge a merrier Christmas for the needy, especially agencies looking after children and the aged.
The spirit of Christmas can also come alive when a gift is received, and, indeed, the grace to receive is another reward. Call it growth in gratitude, for it is only more blessed to give than to receive.
People who make a chore of Christmas and sigh with relief when it is over miss twin blessings - to give generously and thoughtfully and to receive gratefully.
So while there is yet time before Christmas to get the practical matters out of the way, do so. But leave time to attend to those little errands of love, as the poet says, "so that (the time) ... before Christmas may be unhampered and clear of the face of hurry ... ready at last for Christmas - the Mass of Christ."