Another sure sign is that I dragged out the Christmas card list and a few decorations. I think Christmas is a good thing, even if there were no baby in Bethlehem. Society needs a season for giving and in the Northern hemisphere, a season to string extra lights to bring sparkle to the darkest days of the year. Heaven knows the retail markets need a centerpiece to ensure they make a profit. And the non-profits need our meditation on our good fortune to spring cash from our pockets for their worthy causes. Not to mention the tax advantages if one is so well situated that one is worthy to deduct charitable giving.
But I digress. Christmas is the season of joy and the measure of that expands and contracts over the days leading up to the holiday: joy at seeing loved ones, sending & receiving gifts and cards, admiring lights and decorations; then there is the un-joy of long lines, trying to get the right gift before they are sold out, spending too much, and a long list of social niceties that you'd rather skip but are obligated to follow. Everyone should have to do things they find less than enjoyable. It is for the common good.
I imagine God up in heaven with a large abacus. He slides a few counters to the good when we have the Christmas spirit, and subtracts a few counters when we moan and grouse. And we get a whole row slid to the good when we acknowledge the baby in the manger.