So here we are, close to closing out another year. As I look back at 2012, I smile at life. My big accomplishment was finishing my first novel. I still get excited thinking about how it felt that day in May. Along with my first novel, I’ve started a second novel, done a few blogs…not as many as I’d like but a few that meant something deep inside me. I’ve published another poem, and though it’s nothing big…it’s nice to see it in print.

After Dan’s daughter and her little one moved into their new place, Dan and I were able to settled into our existing house…just the two of us…that’s part of a song, right? Of course, that meant new furniture and my second biggest passion (writing being my first, just incase you wondered…lol)… decorating. It is nice to have a husband that enjoys being part of the process and sharing ideas. We are still newlyweds so it’s been great watching our styles blend into what we feel is a comfortable home and welcomes visitors.

This year Dan and I will fly to Washington and spend Christmas with my side of the family. Plans are made and ideas shared on game night, dinners, outings, parties and more. Honestly…I don’t think I could be any happier. It will be a wonderful time and I can’t wait, a time of sharing and caring topped with hugs, kisses and lots of laughter.

All these ideas, passions, commitments and plans are wonderful but without family and friends they mean nothing. It’s important to remember who is in our hearts as we feel their love and respond with love for them.

However, there is something more stirring in my heart. I can’t help but think about the people of all ages, especially the children that are not showered in love, protection, or warmth. There are those that have financial issues, bleak job prospects, health issue or loneliness for a spouse or loved one as they face these holidays without them. Looking around I see people with so little of the comforts of life…no special plans for the holidays, no gifts or special dinners.

Then there are the ones that are faced with past mistakes of drug abuse, alcoholism or maybe even criminal records that changed their future. They have to fight every moment to stay straight, fight the good fight and mend broken relationships as they build new ones going forward but still their past comes back to haunt them. There is no sense in wondering why they made those choices…maybe genetic pattern, maybe a traumatic experience in their childhood or maybe the lack of opportunities they were given growing up. Choices in life can shape us as well as tear us apart. I am ashamed to say I’ve not always been kind with my thoughts or understanding regarding their situation and at times have carried suspicion toward them. Fortunately, each of us have the opportunity to make changes in ourselves that can maybe make a little difference in how we look at others. A little more compassion and a little less criticism is the recipe for a bigger blessing in life. So instead of judging others, I’ll say an extra prayer for them to find strength and courage to face each day, along with peace and joy in whatever they have. For the rest of this month, and hopefully each day going forward, I will spend some quiet moments reflecting on what is really important. I am grateful for my life and I don’t take it for granted, but I am no different from anyone else and can easily get caught up in the material aspects of life. As for the holidays, I love the decorations and holiday music, always keeping in mind the true meaning of Christmas as I treasure every moment…but I want to remember to reflect each day in realizing it doesn’t take a big house or fancy car to make you who you are…it’s what is in your heart.

Merry Christmas to all of you and a Happy New Year…I hope 2013 is filled with promise of brighter days to come.