By Ralphine Major

The signs are slowly disappearing, and festivities for the most celebrated holiday of the year have ended. The long-awaited time when families get together for sharing meals and opening gifts has come and gone. Many traveled long distances to their destinations and have returned home. Scenes of special family reunions tugged at our heartstrings as soldiers returned from Afghanistan to be with their families. Even as one Christmas season comes to a close, plans for another are beginning; many have already purchased gifts for next year!

This year, my first gift came early Christmas morning. It was breath-taking! I saw four white-tailed deer in the pasture. They stood quietly along the fence for a moment before they went dashing over the hill. I never tire of catching a glimpse of nature because it is so rare and unexpected. Gifts from God are those that cannot be bought. They are given by the Creator for us to enjoy. These special moments bring to mind Elvis singing, “Why Can’t Every Day Be Like Christmas?” It can be. For Christians, Christmas is never over—though we may not celebrate it the way we do each December. Because of Christmas, we can have life everlasting and hope for a new year despite all the problems in our world.

The new year is a time to count our blessings of the past year and look forward to new friends and new blessings. It is a time to set new goals, make new resolutions, and face new challenges. As I think of my shortcomings, I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 3:13-14. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Then, I remember what is really important in our living year to year on this earth. May the spirit of Christmas linger in all of us as we begin 2015. Happy New Year!