Sadly, another Christmas has come and gone. I really love the Christmas season and hate to see it end.

I enjoy the lights and decorations, the wonderful music, the cards that keep us in touch, the delicious baked goods, the beautiful poinsettias, the inspiring worship services and spending time with friends — all of which make Christmas memorable.

Did you enjoy your gifts and did others enjoy the gifts you gave? I received some wonderful things and I treasure them. Of course, the most precious gift of all is the gift of salvation offered by the baby in the manger whose birthday we celebrated, Jesus Christ, who grew up to be the Savior of the world. He is God’s wondrous gift to the world.

We now take down the decorations, store them away for another year, and catch up on neglected housekeeping and other chores. I desire to retain the hope and peace I experienced during the Christmas season.

We are blessed to live in the United States where we have the freedom to express our religious beliefs through Nativities, other Christmas displays and Menorahs, and we need not fear that the government will jail us for our faith. As the new year unfolds, we need to keep those in other countries who are persecuted for their faith in our prayers and work for their release.

2017 is around the corner; we are almost upon the new year. I see the new year as a fresh beginning. What a gift we are given each Jan. 1: the chance to start over. We have the opportunity to put our mistakes behind us, focus on new goals and make new memories — a fresh start.

Do you have plans for a fresh beginning this year? What opportunities do you anticipate as the new year begins?

Do you want to quit a bad habit, or just develop some new, healthier habits, like eating more fruits and vegetables, and cutting down on junk food?

Maybe it is finally time to quit smoking or another bad habit. A fresh start is something worthwhile; use it to your advantage, and thank the Lord for this gift.

Janice Lynn Crose, a former accountant, lives in Crestview with her husband, Jim; her two rescue collies, Shane and Jasmine; and two cats, Kathryn and Prince Valiant.