It seems like Christmas comes a bit earlier each year. Between store displays, Christmas songs on the radio, and holiday decorations on the streets, it feels like we began celebrating Christmas in mid-November.

For me, the true start of the Christmas season begins with the Bach and Handel Chorale's Christmas concert in Jim Thorpe. This is a truly great way to start the season and get into the holiday spirit. I've been fortunate enough to cover their concerts for the past three years as a TIMES NEWS correspondent, and I've always been honored to attend these concerts. I love my job!

For others, the start of the Christmas season starts on Black Friday. I've shopped on this busiest day of the year, and have always been fascinated with the number of people out looking for great deals. I also look forward to Cyber Monday the best online shopping day of the season.

Yet other families mark the start of Christmas with holiday cards, baking, and parties. I always like the chance to sit down with friends and co-workers to enjoy a relaxing meal. We don't get a chance to really connect during the year, which is unfortunate. While we don't bake much in my house, I will probably be in charge of the apple pies again this year. Nothing smells better than a warm, freshly-baked apple pie.

Perhaps it's not Christmas until it snows? We've had several small snow storms, but most of our area remains fairly green. As of now we are expecting flurries on Christmas Day. I've always enjoyed a white Christmas.

As you continue to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Christmas, don't forget to pause and enjoy the beauty of the holiday season. Christmas shouldn't be about buying the best present or receiving the biggest gift under the tree. It's not a time to cut in line at the mall, or to rush and ignore the workers helping you during the holiday rush. This is a time of forgiveness, peace, and kindness.

As the last week before Christmas approaches, take a moment to appreciate the miracles marked by this most wonderful time of the year, and to celebrate the holiday in your most favorite way.

Merry Christmas!