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Thursday is Christmas Eve, and Friday is Christmas Day — the biggest day of the year when I was a child growing up. It surpassed all other days each year.

Gifts were given and exchanged with family members and close friends, and a special Christmas dinner was prepared for “the” day. Since it was turkey for Thanksgiving, we had ham for Christmas dinner. Now, with our own family, we usually had our celebration the Saturday before Christmas and held it at our church cultural hall. This year, as it was for Thanksgiving, each family will be having their own dinner in their own home. We’ll visit by phone and/or Zoom and send our gifts through the mail before Christmas Day.

Change and change and change.

I wonder just how long this COVID virus will stick around? At present, vaccines are becoming available but are still in limited supply. All we can do is continue to wear masks and avoid close contact with those outside our own household — until it all gets back to normal (whatever that is). It seems we now live in the “new normal” era.

All of my life I have read through a daily newspaper. My folks took the Salt Lake Tribune while I was growing up. I even delivered it to others on my bike for a couple of years. It was a morning paper. We didn’t take the Deseret News, which was then an evening paper, but both had similar news stories. The Deseret News also included a “Church News” section in their Saturday edition. Now, both papers will publish only one weekend print edition, and it will be delivered by mail, as this newspaper is.

As I’ve written before, “There is nothing permanent except change.” It seems that just about everything is turning to electronic digital communication. Both Jane and I have cell phones, and with email, and all the information available online, printed materials become less and less.

Now a personal note. I battled cancer several years ago and won that time, thanks to chemotherapy, radiation, and some very fine doctors. Sadly for me, it has returned. My doctor and long-time friend, Mike Stones, said we are now in the “comfort stage,” and we discussed specifics in how this is to be done. Many types of cancer, but in men, prostate cancer remains at the top of the list. We contacted a local home health firm and the director made his first visit recently. I think it will work for us.

I share this with you as I ponder whether to continue with these twice monthly columns? The Herald Journal is very patient and good to work with. Today, I am leaning towards keeping this going. If things change drastically for me, then what will be will be.

Some things just don’t change. If I made a list of those things, it would include the following:

1. My belief in a Heavenly Father who loves me and all of his children here on the Earth.

2. That He sent his son Jesus Christ to this Earth, and his birthday we celebrate each December.

3. Every Christmas season we send cards to friends we haven’t seen for a long time.

4. We’re glad our family stays in touch with each other and with us.

5. Our children and grandchildren exchange gifts. Last night one of our sons from out of town surprised us with a visit and a new auto-lift chair for me. What a treat — a gift I am grateful for this year.

Tis the season for giving! Jane has sure made special gifts for our family — photo books of treasured memories over the years. I am grateful that all of these photographs help me remember the many ways my life has been blessed. Truly a gift.

I love this quote by Henry B. Eyring, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: “Remembering may be one of the most precious gifts the Spirit can give you.”

I will always cherish the many memories of my 82 Christmases over my lifetime — from growing up in Magna to the holidays in the islands to the many years spent here in beautiful Cache Valley. I will always remember the Christmases we spent in Hawaii. In fact, as I mentioned in my last column, our Christmas tree this year is the same small tree with our Hawaiian decorations.

Another gift of the season is the many songs of Christmas. I so enjoy the Christmas music. It’s uplifting, sometimes heart-jerking and often emotional to reminisce of Christmases past. We have a variety of Christmas albums that we’ve enjoyed in our home over the years. One of Jane’s favorites is Barbara Streisand. The lyrics of “Christmas Mem’ries” remind me of many of the priceless joys of the season.

Singing carols / Stringing popcorn / Making footprint in the snow /Mem’ries / Christmas Mem’ries / They’re the sweetest ones I know

Cookies baking / In the kitchen / Cards and ribbons / Everywhere / Frosty Christmas Mem’ries / Float like snowflakes in the air

And oh the joy of waking Christmas morning / The fam’ly round the tree /We had a way of making Christmas morning / As merry as can be / I close my eyes and see / Shiny faces / Of all the children / Who now have children of their own / Funny / But come December’ / I remember every Christmas I’ve known…

I hope we all stop and ponder the most important gift of all — the true reason for the season. I believe in Jesus Christ, His divine birth, and His redeeming sacrifice for ALL mankind. I believe in life after this life. Joy to the World. Merry Christmas to you and yours. God bless us, everyone.

Jay Monson is a former educator, and also served on the Utah State Board of Education, Cache County Council, and Logan City Council. He may be reached at monson.jay@gmail.com

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