The following is my annual Christmas column, first written several years ago. It remains a favorite of mine and has probably received as much positive feedback as anything I have written. I like to share it with readers each year. I trust this Christmas will be filled with blessings for you and yours and that 2019 is the best yet for each of you.

This past year, like most, has been stressful at times for me, but as always I have the great gift of strong family support, something which never goes out of style or fades with time.

I trust each of you is as blessed with as much family support as I am. Merry Christmas to each of you who take the time to read this column or others I have written throughout the 2018 calendar year. Thank you for your feedback, whether positive or negative. A gift to any writer is the simple knowledge that someone is reading what they have to offer.

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Ready or not, Christmas is here.

The mad rush to buy presents, decorate the house, cook tons of food and mail Christmas cards has been at a fever pitch in recent weeks. In just a few days, the “Big Day” will be here.

I still have vivid childhood memories of Christmas day while growing up in the central Georgia town of Monticello. It seemed Christmas Eve was always the toughest night to go to sleep.

No matter how many times I tossed and turned, flipped the pillow over or tried to force myself into dreamland, it was no use. (I suppose I should have tried reading a book as I recall back then that was a surefire way to make me go to dreamland.)

Eventually, Christmas morning would arrive, and I was always blessed with new items that would be the center of my attention — for a little while anyway.

Another part of Christmas morning I always enjoyed was the visit to my grandparents’ house, located just down the road from where I grew up.

The ritual Christmas morning visit to Pop and Nanny’s house is something I still remember, cherish and miss to this day.

The table would be full of all the right Southern breakfast items from scrambled eggs to biscuits to bacon. It simply couldn’t be beat.

Looking back now, however, I realize what I actually enjoyed more than the food was the family togetherness we shared. My grandparents, parents, brother, cousins and other family members were always there, along with additional guests each year.

In the future, let’s hope we can all make more time for our family and not just during the holiday season.

In today’s hectic, fast-paced society we can often forget those who are most important — our family. Unfortunately, family members take a back seat when we have to try and deal with our work-driven lifestyles.

As far as the weather goes, I still feel fortunate to live in a part of the country where we have at least a 50 percent chance of a good day on Dec. 25.

While we’ve had to deal with some crummy weather of late, you can never completely rule out a day of sunny weather with a high in the ‘60s on Christmas. Nothing can beat Christmas in the South.

While I love our neighbors to the north, there is no way I would want to be there when this time on the calendar arrives.

When the Christmas rush is finally over, we get to enjoy another holiday a few days later on New Year’s, a day which has become known (to me at least) for college football bowl games if nothing else. It’s a time when I try to squeeze in as many games as possible before the long, long winter drought without gridiron action to watch begins.

The long winter drought for football junkies can be downright depressing (take it from me, someone who knows personally).

Football aside, with the year 2019 comes a sense of hope for better times and better events ahead. I personally hope the next calendar year will be a positive 12 months for everyone.

That’s what is so great about beginning a new year. The old one, no matter how tough or trying, can be put behind us. When we flip the page on the calendar from December to January, high hopes for a prosperous new year can be felt.

I offer a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to each one of you. I thank you for taking the time to read the words in this space from time to time. Let’s all gather again here next year. I wish each of you good health and the blessing that is family.

Winder resident Chris Bridges is a former editor of the Barrow-News Journal. He has earned awards for column writing from the Georgia Press Association, the National Newspaper Association and the Georgia Sports Writers Association. He welcomes feedback about this column at pchrisbridges@gmail.com.

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