The other day my friend Tina and I chatted how a year can make a big difference, how life takes us from one place to another.

Yes, we’re a year older, wiser or, for some, wilder. We’ve changed or tried not to change. The choice is ours; that’s the beauty of it all. Life can be unfair, difficult and sad but all the while hope remains.

I don’t know what drives you but one thing that brings enlightenment to most of us is the Christmas season. Many ask themselves where is the Christmas spirit? We can lay down the many reasons why it sometimes seems to be lacking, but you and I know where it is.

Any circumstance during the year could have made this moment less jolly. Not you, Kevin Jolly! You’re always Jolly my friend. However, when we see the snow, the Christmas lights, children’s laughter, or hear the JBCCS’s and CBC’s Christmas greeting call-ins, usually that softens the Grinch or Krampus heart.

My heart beams with joy when I hear Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s Once Upon a Christmas. This album has permanently stamped my heart with blissful childhood memories. I can close my eyes and clearly remember our blue walls inside our log home in Mistissini and our Charlie Brown Christmas tree beautifully accentuating the corner space with bright colourful lights. I can especially see our red cardinal birds adorning the tree and hear Kenny and Dolly singing in the background. Since I was a kid, I was hooked on Dolly. I think the album cover had a lot to do with my fixation. I couldn’t get over her red Lee’s press-on nails! We all have our Christmas triggers and I hope that you’ll find yours soon.

By the time this gets out, I will have celebrated my 38th birthday! Man, what a life. When I started being more appreciative of everything, especially the tough times, that’s when life got sweeter. Just the other day, I was honoured to hear a woman I love, Carol Arnott, share her thoughts on love and how love penetrates even the darkest times, even during the attacks in Paris a few weeks ago.

Love covered “les Parisiens” and love prevailed. Love is always ready for a relationship with the world, with you. I opened my life to be loved a year ago and five months later I was blessed with someone to love. Now I’m engaged! Ain’t love grand? I’ll be 38 and married. I think it’s a good number to get hitched. Christmas will be sweeter this year! I remind myself of this quote from Pastor John Bootsma: “Your future is better than your past!” Happy Birthday to you and me!

I want to take this time to wish you all a Merry Christmas. I wish you love. I pray that your hearts will be filled with peace even as you remember your loved ones who’ve gone home. May forgiveness rule your hearts and joy reign within you as you enter the New Year. My friends, have a fantastic Christmas holiday and a great 2016.