Tomorrow or the next day, I will decorate for Christmas. Yes, time is ticking. Isn’t it always?

I’m not worried. Christmas will happen at my house. All the things I need or want to do will either get done or they won’t. And it will still be Christmas.

Pretty soon I’ll wade hip deep into shopping and baking and decorating. But not today.

Today, my husband and I are still recovering from a 12-hour drive from California, where we visited family, to our home in Las Vegas, where we can sleep, hallelujah, in our own bed.

No matter the location, or how high the thread count, no bed on Earth is as good as your own.

We pulled into the garage and unpacked the car. Then I fell into bed and slept 10 hours. I’ve been drinking coffee for three days and I’m still not caffeinated enough to decorate a tree.

On the drive home, we talked about maybe not doing a tree this year. It’s just the two of us. We could go out to dinner, keep it simple. I was almost sold on it. This changed my mind.

Near Sonoma, we drove past hills that had been blackened by wildfires a month ago. More than 8,000 homes and other buildings were destroyed, and countless lives devastated.

But recent rains had drenched those hills. And on the ground beneath fire-scorched oaks, new grass was bursting forth in a dazzling green promise that hope rises even from ashes.

Life persists.

And so does the spirit of Christmas. You can’t call it up on speed dial. You can shop and bake and decorate, crank up the Christmas music, watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and hang colored lights around your neck.

But you won’t feel the spirit of Christmas until it finds you. It’s a gift that opens in your heart the moment you are ready to receive it. Until then, all you can do is wait for it, and watch for it, and believe in it. When it shows up, you’ll find yourself smiling in wonder and surprise.

So what makes us ready to “open” the Christmas spirit gift? For me, it’s something different most every year:

• Seeing my dad, when I was 5, down on his knees, swearing under his breath, assembling the dollhouse of my dreams.

• Finding my toddler grinning like a mule eating briars under the Christmas tree, where he had removed every stick-on bow from every package and stuck them all on his head.

• Directing 20 kids, including my three, in a church Christmas pageant in which my oldest, a shepherd, brought down the house by using the crook of his staff to snag a wandering sheep.

• Leaning out of an upstairs window with my first husband, three weeks before he lost his battle with cancer, and listening to carolers on the street sing my favorite carol, “O Holy Night.”

• Driving to Yosemite with two of my grown children to spend Christmas in a hotel room with their brother, who was working that year in the park.

• Laughing at my new husband in our new home in Las Vegas, hearing him swear under his breath while hanging Christmas lights on the back fence.

This year, Christmas found me early, when I saw green grass growing on fire-ravaged hills.

Tomorrow, or the next day, when I’m more caffeinated, I’ll drag the fake tree in from the garage. (Here in the desert, fresh-cut trees stay fresh about 5 minutes.) My husband will help, and he’ll try not to swear.

We will celebrate Christmas, just the two of us, for our family and friends, wherever they may be, from California to Carolina, or in heaven above.

But mostly we will celebrate for us – for the blessed gift of life and love that was born in poverty long ago, and is reborn each day in our hearts and hopes and dreams, and in green grass on fire-ravaged hills.

May the spirit of Christmas find you and never let you go.

– Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson NV 89077, or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com