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Christmas Day has come and gone. Gifts have been opened and now wait to be exchanged for the correct size or color. All the decorations are down, except for the Christmas cards. I like to keep them up until I have time to take each one in my hand, and again read what has been scribed inside. Then I?ll store them away until next year when my granddaughter and I will make bookmarks out of them.

As the end of the year draws to a close my mind wanders back through the year 2011. It has brought sorrows. Loved ones and dear friends have passed away. But the peace of knowing we?ll all be reunited one day shrouds me in comfort. There are so many wonderful things that have occurred this year. My husband, daughter, granddaughter and myself are all healthy. We have warm homes and plenty to eat, and an un-measurable love for one another.

One of the best things that?s happened this past year is that my daughter met a man who brings a glow to her face, a kind, gentle soul who is decent and loving. What a joy for a mother to know her child is truly happy. And of course I don?t know what my world would be without my granddaughter. She is the sparkle in my life.

I won?t say a whole lot about my husband Jerry because he hates for me to write about him. But I am thankful for that blind date back in February 1975, and for the years that have followed. Not all has been perfect, but we?ve stood by each other, sometimes when we really didn?t want to. But, because of that commitment God has blessed us. We have a respect for each other and a love that has stood the test of time. I am blessed beyond measure and proud to call myself Jerry Byrd?s wife.

Many other wonderful things have happened this year. One of my best friends has a new grandbaby that she adores. My nephew married a wonderful young lady. I?ve become not just a first cousin to cousin Kaye, but friends. I traveled to Yellowstone National Park with my sister, looked a buffalo in the eye and marveled at just how awesome our God is to have created all that He has.

There are so many simple things that I am thankful for. My 2004 Nissan Sentra that gets me where I need to go, and Jerry?s old custom cab Ford pickup. I love my camper at New River, and the friends that I?ve made there. The old springhouse that my forefathers built continues to keep me rooted with remembrances of how hard life used to be. My good friend and neighbor JoAnn is always a blessing to me as well as my many other friends and neighbors. And, I adore my kittens, all except for the one who continues to poop on my basement steps.

Another highlight of the year for me has been traveling to schools and festivals, meeting so many new faces, people who have bought my novel, Guardian Spirit, and made the most wonderful comments. You will never know how much I appreciate each and every one of you. This year I finished my third novel, The Color of My Heart. Lord willing I?ll find an agent in 2012 and then a publisher for it.

To be able to stay home and help care for my granddaughter and write down my stories is more than I could ever have hoped for and far more than I deserve. As father time clicks away the minutes we should look forward to the New Year and anticipate all that lies ahead. Looking back and having regrets is a waste of time and energy. We may not be able to change the past, but we sure as heck can start out 2012 with new hope and a promise to lose ten pounds, or not.

Being satisfied with what we have is true happiness. In the coming year for those who hate the rain, may all your days be sunny. And for all who love the steady pitter-patter on a cold rainy day I hope you have a warm fuzzy blanket to snuggle up in and your loved ones gathered close by. Choosing to be content in whatever situation you?re in is the key to a rich life. Reach for the stars, but don?t be upset if all you pull back is a lightning bug.

Happy New Year and God bless you all!

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