A Look Inside: Next Year In New Jerusalam

As we near Passover, I wanted to share in detail about my book, Next Year in New Jerusalem.  It’s still available as a print book, but is newly available as a 23-day email series, which can be used for personal study, devotions, or as a step-by-step guide to putting on your own Christ-centered Seder.

This is more than a Seder script (Haggadah).  It’s also an explanation of the depth of spiritual wealth in the Passover celebration, followed by a Christian Haggadah, using the traditional 6-hour Haggadah as a guide, condensed into 3 hours (including supper), with the institution and celebration of footwashing and the Lord’s Supper woven into the places in the Seder when they would have taken place during Jesus’ last Passover with His disciples, before He was sacrificed as the final Passover Lamb, who takes away the sins of the world.

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The new version of Next Year in New Jerusalem

What will you find in Next Year In New Jerusalem?  One of the things you may not realize is the importance of preparation for Passover, both logistically and spiritually.  This edition is the same as the original edition — intentionally, so that you can use it together with any of the old copies you have.

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Working with the original edition, updating and rechecking the references.

I’ve tried to include lots of ideas as well as detailed instructions in this edition of the book.  Below is the table of contents and I’ll explain a little about each chapter.

Table of Contents

Introduction  5
Getting Ready for Passover  9
When to Celebrate Passover  13
Preparing the Home  15
Preparing the Hearts  19
The Four Questions  23
Preparing the Table  25
Shopping List  29
Items for the Great Leaven Hunt  30
Additional Activities to Keep Children Busy  31
The Great Leaven Hunt  33
The Passover Meal & Ceremony  37
How to Make Jesus Your Messiah  69
Glossary of Terms  73

While the bulk of the book is the Seder script, I’ve included a number of chapters to help you understand Passover and help it to be a heart experience.  And because the logistics of the Passover Seder can be complicated, I’ve included lists and detailed descriptions to walk you step-by-step through the preparation and execution of your Seder.

In the Introductory section, I explain how Christians can benefit from a celebration of Passover.  While there are many benefits, one of the main thrusts of Passover is to remember and to teach — remember what God has done for us, and teach that to our children and others.  I believe this is a very important thing to do, through Passover and through other events in your life.  We see throughout Scripture how important it is to remind ourselves and others continually about what God has done for us.  This is how we grow our faith and keep it alive.  When we have a rich repository of God’s work in our lives, we are able to face the challenges of life with a stronger belief in God and trust in His guidance, protection, and provision.  The Introduction section helps you to understand the philosophy of Passover celebration … the why’s.

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Elijah’s place at our Seder table last year

Getting Ready for Passover helps you begin to understand the how’s of the Seder script preparation.  The script is written, using the traditional 6-hour Seder script (haggadah) as a template, but the entire Seder (including supper) in Next Year In New Jerusalem is condensed to approximately 3 hours.  (More about the Seder later, along with a sample from it.)  Because we never know how many people will be at our Seder from year to year, and because I want to encourage you to include others in your celebration, the readers in the script part are left blank for you to fill in.  This section gives you tips for doing that, as well as ideas for helping your guests feel more at home during the ceremony … and some potentially awkward situations to avoid.  🙂

As Christians, we have many options for when to celebrate Passover.  This chapter, When to Celebrate Passover, explains some of those possibilities.  In Preparing the Home, you’ll learn about the role of leaven in Passover and you’ll be invited to dedicate your home to God each year.  This is a wonderful opportunity to make an intentional commitment to allowing your home be a place that glorifies God.  Preparing the Hearts suggests ways to focus your own and your family’s hearts on Jesus, the Passover Lamb, through stories, books, activities and music.  I’ve prepared a Passover playlist on youtube for my grandchildren and I invite you to make use of this as well.  There’s a lot in the Passover Seder to keep the time lively and engaging for children of all ages.

The Four Questions (which are really 5 questions) are an important part of the Seder and these are listed with the Bible references so that you can prepare the children to ask these questions and watch for their answers during the Seder.  There are also Additional Activities To Keep Children Busy during the waiting periods.

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Preparing the Table is probably the most logistically focused section of the book, as there are a number of things that have to be included on the table and need to be arranged in a specific way.  The chapter takes you step-by-step, in detail, through setting your Seder table.  By the time you get to this chapter, you will have a good grasp of the components of the Seder.  I have to say that I, somewhat selfishly, I suppose, reserve the preparation of the Seder table for myself, because I enjoy the special time with the Lord as I pray for the participants and saturate myself in the Passover symbolism and wealth of reminders of God’s goodness.  For pictures from our celebration of Passover in 2013, you can view my Passover album at https://www.facebook.com/alycekay.hanush/media_set?set=a.10200419487223559.1073741826.1047433008&type=3  For an album of ideas for your Seder Table, https://www.facebook.com/alycekay.hanush/media_set?set=a.10202458128148308.1073741855.1047433008&type=3

The Great Leaven Hunt is an optional pre-Seder activity which is based on Jewish tradition, but takes on a distinctly Christian flavor here.  During the Seder itself, you will be celebrating the Passover, Jesus Instituted the Eucharist (a.k.a. Communion) during His final Passover celebration with His disciples. The Bible warns us of celebrating the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner.  The Great Leaven Hunt is both an educational and fun activity for the children, and an opportunity for each participant to examine his or her heart and leave anything at the cross that shouldn’t be brought to the Table.

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The Passover Meal and Ceremony make up the bulk of the book, of course.  I’ve excerpted a couple sections below, so you can see how it works.  But a bit of explanation first.  You’ll notice blanks before each new line in the Seder.  These blanks are for you to fill out with the names of your reading guests.  Detailed instructions and suggestions are given earlier in the book.  This takes some time to prepare, which is one of the reasons you don’t want to wait until the day of your Seder to start preparations!  I recommend filling these in a few days ahead of time, then the day before the Seder, sitting down with your children or a couple helpers and filling in the names in all the copies (in pencil so you can change these for next year).  It’s best to wait until close to the Seder to fill in all the Haggadahs which will be used by your guests, just in case there are any changes in your guest list.

This Haggadah includes appropriate Scripture references all throughout.  These are not meant to be read, per se, at the Seder itself, but are meant for additional study and reference.  There are many Scriptural allusions in the Jewish Haggadah, and I’ve included even more here; this way, you can spend time, if you like, familiarizing yourself to the Scriptures the Seder is based on. I can’t begin to express what a wonderful blessing this is for you and your family.  You might even want to spend the week before Passover reading these passages in your family devotions — or make one of these references each night into your family devotions from New Years until Passover.

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The following are two of the sections of the Haggadah in Next Year In New Jerusalem, so you can get an idea of how the script works and how the traditional Jewish haggadah is overlaid with the fulfillment of Passover prophecy in Jesus and His institution of the Lord’s Supper.

Breaking of the Middle Matzah

(________ standing, lifts up the plate with the matzah for everyone to see.)

________:  This is the Bread of Affliction which Israel ate in the land of Egypt.  Let all who are hungry come and eat.  Let all who are needy come and celebrate the Passover with us.  (Deuteronomy 16:3; Psalm 146:7; Deuteronomy 15:11)

(________ seats himself.)

________:  Now we are here; next year may we be in the Land of Israel, or better yet, in the New Jerusalem, which will come down from Heaven.  We were formerly slaves; now we are free.  (Revelation 21:1-4, Romans 6:20-22)

________:  Let’s pray for those who are still slaves to sin.

(Pray generally and/or specifically for friends and relatives who do not know Christ.)

________:  There are three pieces of matzah here.  They are each distinct, yet they are one on this plate.  This matzah reminds us of God.  He is three persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — but He is one God.  (Deuteronomy 6:4)

________:  This is a mystery to us, one we will probably never fully comprehend, but it is true.

________:  Jesus, the Son of God, is the only person in the trinity that anyone has ever seen or touched.  Likewise, the middle piece of matzah is the only piece that is ever seen or touched.  To the Jews, this is a mystery.  To us, it represents Christ.  The Jews remove the middle piece of matzah and break it.  (I John 1:1)

(________ places the matzah plate on the table.  He removes the middle piece, being careful not to expose the other two pieces.  He holds the middle piece of matzah up and breaks it, reciting I Corinthians 5:7b:)

________: “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.”  (I Corinthians 5:7b)

(He wraps half of the broken matzah with the extra napkin and puts the other piece back on the plate.)

________:  Jesus was sacrificed like the Passover Lamb, so that death would pass over us.  When He died, His body was wrapped in cloth and hidden away in a new tomb.  (Exodus 12:13; Matthew 27:57-60)

(All the children must close their eyes while ________ hides the wrapped and broken matzah.  The traditional hiding place is behind the father’s cushion, but you may feel free to break with tradition and hide it anywhere you want.  The children will search for it later.)

(This next portion comes quite a bit later in the Seder.)

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The Lord’s Supper: The Bread

(________ passes the broken half of matzah around.  Each person breaks off a piece and holds it. ________ takes an extra piece to crush.)

________:  This bread, free from leaven (which reminds us of sin) is a symbol to us of Christ.  Notice that it is striped and pierced.

________:  “He was pierced through for our transgressions.  (Isaiah 53:5)

________:  “He was crushed for our iniquities. (He crushes his extra piece in his hand as this is said, for all to see.)

________:  “The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

________:  “And with His stripes we are healed.”  (Last line is King James version.)

________:  “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to You, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks …”  (I Corinthians 11:23-24)

(________ stands, holding a piece of matzah in one hand, with his other held over it in blessing.)

________:  We bless You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who gives us bread to eat.  We bless You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who sets us apart to be holy and freed us from our sins.

________:  “… He broke it, and said, “This  is My body, which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  (I Corinthians 11:24)

(EACH PERSON eats their piece of matzah.)

The section after the Seder, How to Receive Jesus the Messiah, is written for your guests who have not yet received Jesus.  It’s written in an easy to understand manner which doesn’t assume any church or biblical knowledge.  I hope that this section will be useful in introducing others to the Messiah they’ve just celebrated.

The final chapter, The Glossary of Terms, sounds a little boring, but I hope it’s actually one of the most interesting.  It explains some of the terms used in the haggadah that you might not be familiar with, as well as some of the background meaning and interesting facts.

To purchase Next Year In New Jerusalem, you can use the link below.  Feel free to contact me, either on Facebook or through the comments section below, with any questions you have.

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Next Year in New …

Alyce-Kay Hanush

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Worry. It’s the New Black

My Dad likes to say that he’s proven that worry works:  99% of the things he worries about never happen!  He’s being facetious, of course, and his point is that most of the things we worry about never would happen.  Which is true.  Worry is pointless.  Beyond that, God tells us not to worry.  But here’s where I stumble:  Many of the things I worry about really do have the potential of happening.

There’s so much to worry about in our world today.  You don’t need me to name the possibilities, and I won’t, just in case there’s something to worry about that you haven’t thought of yet.  🙂   Let me just say, I’m a skillful worrier — Olympic quality.  And public anxiety has become fashionable.  It’s the new black.

I have a friend in India who’s an evangelist.  He shares the gospel with Hindus.  It’s hard.  Sometimes, it’s frightening.  He and his family (wife and 3 adorable little girls) had to leave their home region because of persecution.  Now, he’s suffering in other ways.  Recently, he was threatened with eviction because they couldn’t pay the rent.  (His landlord has since shown him mercy and allowed him more time to get the rent.)  His little girls cried themselves to sleep the other night, because there was no food.

We talk nearly every day, and he has been distressed this week.  I’ve not known what to say.  Oh, I know all the verses and platitudes … but I also know how I feel when someone says things like that to me when I’m distressed.  It doesn’t cure my anxiety.  It just tells me to make a note not to share my fears with that person in the future.  (I know that’s not the “godly” response, but it’s true.) When God brings Scriptures to mind that I’ve memorized, it helps me.  But when other people say, “Don’t worry, blah, blah, blah,” all I feel is condemnation.  I’m not saying that’s a commendable response, just being transparent here.

I prayed for him while we talked, but I didn’t know what to say.  I wanted to offer him some kind of help, but I don’t have money to offer, so I kept my mouth shut.  The thought that kept coming to mind was where Peter said to the lame man, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I Thee.”  (Yes, I sometimes think in King James, lol.)  I kept asking God, “But what do I have that I can give him?  What is the ‘such that I have?’ ”

Then, the dreaded thing happened.  My friend asked me for help.

But do you know what he asked for?  He asked me to tell him stories of how God has provided for me and my family.  Well, that really is a “such as I have” because I have loads of stories to tell!  He listened intently, and his comments after each story were things like, “God is really good.”  “This is strengthening my faith.”  “Now, I know God will provide for us!”  “God will take care of us, even if it’s not the way we expect.”

I learned two really big things from this.

1.  We NEED to share with each other, over and over, the stories of how God has worked in our lives.  It’s necessary for our own faith and that of others.  (More on this another time.)

2.  The magnitude of the stories isn’t what matters.  I have never, ever come close to suffering what my friend has suffered and is suffering.  I would not have thought that my stories of what God has done for me and my family could possibly be an encouragement to him.  But reminding ourselves and each other of what God has done (and therefore, what He CAN do) is like making deposits in our faith bank … it all adds up.

Here are a couple of my stories.  I’ll share more in the future.

Once, when we didn’t have much food, my girls and I prayed together and asked God to provide.  God had shown me early on that I needed to include my kids in my praying and not hide from them what our circumstances were, because they needed to see the answers, in order to build their faith.  So we prayed.  Our doorbell rang.  It was a friend I hadn’t seen in a couple years … with a box of food.  She said that God had told her to bring it over.  I remember there was bread and cheese, and I forget what else.  There was also a pie.  My girls (Jon wasn’t born yet) crowded behind me and when I closed the door, Lois, who was probably about 7 or so, said in wonder, “Mama, God didn’t just provide what we needed!  He provided what we wanted, too!”

Another time, I prayed, “Lord, my kids are growing and I don’t have money to buy them clothes.  I would be happy to sew their clothes, but I can’t even afford fabric.”  Another knock at the door.  A friend of mine who sews a lot said that God had told her to clean out her sewing room.  She brought over bags of fabric and wanted to know if I could use them.  🙂  They were fabrics in my kids’ favorite colors.  There were patterns — also in their sizes.  This is my favorite part:  There were some patterns pinned to fabric that had already been cut out.  (Cutting the fabric is the only part of sewing I really don’t enjoy.)

When I needed to find a home for myself and my two remaining children a year ago, I was looking at run down, little apartments that were barely within my means if I worked a lot of overtime.  It was depressing.  One day, God told me to drive around Lake Como.  Lake Como is one of my favorite areas in the Twin Cities, because I love the conservatory during the winter.  The whole time, I kept saying something that has refreshed my faith over and over.  I think I heard it from Joyce Meyers:  “Lord, You know what I need and You know how to get it to me.”  I didn’t get the sense that God was necessarily going to give us a place in that area, but simply that He wanted me to set my sights beyond the run down apartments.  A week or two later, I was offered a cute Victorian for less than the apartments.  The outside is somewhat run down, but the owners plan to work on it in the future, and to be honest, the outside doesn’t matter to me.  The inside is GORGEOUS.  And spacious.  The perfect combination of new plumbing and appliances with the old, original woodwork, doorknobs and hinges.  It is beyond what I could have imagined.  Beyond what I believed I deserved.  (Sometimes, I forget I’m a princess.)

I would like to ask you to do 2 things:

1.  Could you please pray for my friend and his family?  I don’t want to share his name publicly, as I don’t know if it would cause him trouble, but God will know exactly who you’re praying for.  Pray for God to provide for them and protect them.  But more than that, pray that God will strengthen their faith.  Pray that their landlord will be blessed because of his mercy.

2.  What are some of your stories about how God has taken care of you?  I would love it if you share them below in the comments.  We need to be strengthening each others’ faith.

More Advent Traditions

Some Additional Advent Traditions

Beyond the general celebration of Advent, with the candles and reading of theme-related Scriptures each night, the rest of these suggestions are frills, but as far as I’m concerned, the more frills, the better, because frills equal tradition and opportunities to remind ourselves and our families of what God has done.

Here are some of the things our family and others add to our Advent celebrations.

We buy our tree on Thanksgiving weekend, so that we’ll have it before the first Sunday of Advent.  When my children were little, we only put lights (and sometimes tinsel) on it at that point.  Each night when we did our Advent reading and lit our candles, we let the kids take an ornament and put it on the tree.  Whenever possible, I tried to have ornaments to fit the Scripture read that night (e.g., an apple or other fruit for the original sin, a lighthouse for “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,” a miniature nativity scene on Christmas Day, angels for each day of the second week, candy canes or lambs for Shepherds’ week, etc.)  This way, decorating the tree lasted all month — it’s something we looked forward to each evening — and the tree took on special meaning as it changed each night.

Some families invite single friends or couples without children to celebrate with them.  Children contribute greatly to the excitement and joy of Christmas.  We’re also more prone to slow down and think through our beliefs and the reality of God’s Gift when we are called on to give a simplified explanation to a child.

You might think of activities to do as a family, an individual, or to share with the church which accent your celebration of Advent and Christmas.  Making special ornaments for your tree (or your church tree) is one possibility.

Families with young children often enjoy role-playing some of the Scripture readings.  I’ve included in the book some original scripts that I wrote for Christmas and Advent programs at our church.  You can use these as skits or simply as reader’s theater.  We used them at church on various Sundays during Advent.  It’s pretty easy to see which skits go with each week.  Where there is more than one skit per week, we had one at the beginning of the service, one after the offering, etc.

We used to sleep under the Christmas tree — on the floor — on Christmas Eve to be like Mary and Joseph who didn’t have a comfortable bed.  This took on extra meaning for me the years I was pregnant.

Our family also likes to have our big celebration — opening gifts, the big Christmas dinner, and a birthday cake for Jesus — on Christmas Eve.  On Christmas, we used to invite others to join us for caroling in our community:  At convalescent homes, hospitals, for people we knew who were shut-in, and places where public servants (such as police officers, firemen, and bus drivers) were giving up their Christmas to serve the community.  This allowed us to focus on giving on Christmas Day.

Many people find that sharing the Lord’s Supper together becomes a natural, joyful part of their Advent celebration.  After all, we aren’t only commemorating Jesus’ birth; we find the most important focus in His death and resurrection … and we anticipate His second advent.

Other families extend their Christmas celebration ’til twelve days after Christmas.  Epiphany is January 6 (“the twelfth day of Christmas”), and in many traditions, gifts are held until this day to symbolize the gifts the magi brought to Jesus, or are spread out throughout the twelve days (as in the famous song).

Advent Opportunities

Advent should be a special time of giving to the needy among us.  While we need to always remember the poor, we should especially remember during Advent that

•Jesus was born in a stable, the stepson of a carpenter.
•Jesus wandered on this earth like a stranger among us.
•Jesus said that He didn’t have a place to lay His head.

In Celebrating Advent, you’ll find three very special opportunities to share God’s love through Jesus with those who are in need.  I’ve chosen these particular projects because they have the ability to capture your children’s imaginations.  You may have other favorites.  If so, write and tell me.  I may include them in future editions of the book.

To order Celebrating Advent, click on the link below.  (Please note that this is a special introductory price that will only be in effect until December 1st.)

May your celebration of Jesus guide your heart in longing for His presence in your life each and every day.

http://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStoreDetails.aspx?BookID=24391&ID=26ce21e7-f5d0-425c-8f24-470d7f7fed22

Christmas: To Celebrate or Not to Celebrate?

I love Jewish tradition and holidays.  From Passover to Purim, each one memorializes God’s mercy and provision.  Many of our Christian holidays stem from that same desire to see God exalted and to pass on the tenets of the faith.

Unfortunately, many of our Christian holy days have slipped into commercialism and self-centeredness.  Others, because of questionable beginnings, sometimes in paganism, or a root in ritualism, have fallen into disrepute with those of us who hope to purge evil from our daily lives.  I’d like to suggest something which may seem almost as questionable to those who are zealous for purity, and which may seem fanatical to those who are “just enjoying the season:”  Don’t be afraid to celebrate, if your celebration glorifies the Lord!

To me, the idea that Christmas as we know it was rooted in a pagan holiday makes it even more appropriate for me as a believer:  God has a habit of turning the profane into the holy!  We were dead in our sins, but the Lord has made us His righteousness through Jesus (II Cor. 5.21).  Praise God!  But don’t use this as an excuse to participate once again in the profane.  Leave the selfishness and greed the world associates with Christmas behind.  Celebrate what memorializes Christ and use the time to pass God’s precepts on to your children.

I believe in taking every opportunity I can to teach my children (and remind myself) about the Lord’s love.  If I need to make up a tradition, so be it.  I’ve made up plenty.  But if I can use something which is already being celebrated, then so much the better:  The foundation is laid and the time is already set aside.  Children and adults are released from school and work.  Capture the time!  So what if Jesus probably wasn’t born in December?  My sister, whom we adopted at age 5 from Korea, had been arbitrarily assigned a birthday and age.  It hasn’t hindered us from celebrating:  We’re just as glad that she was born, whether it actually happened in May or in December.

The measuring stick I like to use when evaluating whether a tradition is worth holding onto, needs revamping, or needs to be thrown away completely, is very simple:  DOES IT GLORIFY GOD?  In many cases, this is something which can only be answered between you and God.  Gift-giving can be centered in greed or a desire to look good, or it can stem from a genuine desire to bless others.  Having a birthday party for Jesus can be a true reminder that God gave His only Son so that we can know Him, or it can simply be an attempt to whitewash a sepulcher and show off how “holy” we are.

My book, Celebrating Advent, soon to be re-released, is actually a combination of approaches:  Advent is an already existing time of year, with some traditions that I’ve kept, some I’ve altered, and some I’ve made up completely.  In it, I suggest some ideas which you may be able to use as you share Jesus with your family and friends this December.  Evaluate whether those that appeal to you would be genuinely used to glorify God in your family.

One final note:  If the Lord has convicted you not to celebrate Christmas, please don’t take this as an argument that you should abandon those convictions.  Paul makes it clear in Romans 14 and 15 that some people’s consciences won’t allow them to do things which are perfectly fine for others.  “Each man must be convinced in his own mind.”  (Romans 14.5)  Both those who are able and those cannot celebrate must be very careful not to judge those of opposite persuasion.  If you can’t celebrate, then praise God that your brother or sister in Christ has that freedom.  And if you are free to celebrate, praise God that your brother or sister is standing firm to their convictions.

How This Book Differs From The First Edition

I have been asked by a number of people to put this book back in print.  I also do it for personal reasons.  I gave a copy of this book to each of my children, back when they were growing up … when they were too young for me to imagine them having families of their own.  Well, life has gone beyond my imagination and those little children are now grown, with children of their own.  (I have 7 grandchildren so far!)  So they need several copies for their own families.  I’ve had similar requests from others who used this and other Tools For Godly Living books that were published in the 1990s.  I’ve kept this version basically the same, with very few changes, so that the two editions can be used together.

One thing that has happened in the intervening years, which I think will be helpful, is the development of youtube.  You may not be familiar with the carols I’ve included in the book.  You can find these songs on youtube and listen to them to learn them, or even play them while your family sings along as part of your advent celebration.  (Of course, you’re completely welcome to use other songs instead.)  I’ve created a playlist of the songs used in this book.  If you subscribe to my youtube channel, isaiah3020, you’ll find the playlist, Celebrating Advent.

The book, Celebrating Advent, was just released this morning!  You can order it at http://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStoreResults.aspx?search=celebrating%20advent&ddl=any  The introductory price is good until December 1, which is also when Advent starts this year.

Let’s glorify Him together.

Alyce-Kay Hanush
November 2013
Atwater, Minnesota  (and yep, there’s already snow on the ground!)