By Ray Knapp

Today is the 360th day of the year; five days remaining ‘till the New Year. How about that! This year is almost gone and I accomplished none of my New Year’s resolutions, mainly because I didn’t have any. I gave up on New Year’s resolutions long ago, and have limited resolutions to a much shorter range. I found that giving myself a whole year to break a bad habit, start a new routine, like working out daily and other worthwhile projects seldom happened, and before I knew it, Dec. 26 was here again and it wasn’t worthwhile to start anything with only 5 days left in the year.

Time has gone by so fast that before I knew it, I am fast approaching the century mark. Well, I’m over 4 score and catch myself reading the obituaries often to make sure my name isn’t listed. With the median age for Americans falling to 78.6 years, it appears the Good Lord has seen fit to spare me over to another year.

One month before my birthday we celebrated the observed birthday of Christ, which of course everyone calls Christmas. When I was little I didn’t know the first thing about the true meaning of Christmas until I was in the first grade. There, I learned a little bit about its meaning. Every morning our teacher led us in prayer, and then we recited the pledge to the flag. As Christmas approached she explained that Christmas was about the birth of the Christ Child.

During that time, my sister and I had made new friends at school, and she occasionally stayed the weekend with a new girlfriend and attended Sunday school and Church with her. “I’m learning a lot about God,” she would say, when I asked her what church was like.

As it got closer to Christmas I told my sister I was going to ask Santa for a pedal car when he came to visit the school. My sister informed me that you didn’t ask Santa for anything, you prayed to God for what you wanted. When Santa came to our school we all got to sit on his lap; get our picture taken, and then tell him what we wanted for Christmas. I just sat there on his lap after the picture was taken. Finally he said, “Tell me what you want for Christmas.”

I answered knowingly, “I don’t tell you, I pray to God for what I want.” I could see I had upset Santa a little. He sat me down. “You’re probably right,” he said gruffly.

Finally, the great day arrived. I was one of the first ones up and rushed out, fully expecting to see a shiny red pedal car. It wasn’t there! About that time my sister came out of the bedroom rubbing the sleep from her eyes. “You lied to me!” I cried. “I didn’t get a pedal car.” My sister wasn’t taken aback, “Did you pray “every day?” I had to admit that I hadn’t. “Well, no wonder,” she said. Digging through the presents she found my present and handed me a box that contained a strong metal truck that I could hold in my hands. I drove that truck anywhere and everywhere.

Things and memories don’t end just because you reach those “Golden Years.” Seems like it was just yesterday, I was preaching to a little congregation at Governor’s Bend. Right in the middle of the story of Christ’s birth with angels telling the shepherds not to be afraid, one of the elderly ladies (Jackie) spoke up loudly. “It doesn’t do me a bit of good to go to church,” she stated emphatically, “Ray, you have such a soft and reassuring voice, it puts me to sleep every time!”   

It’s actually been several years ago and Jackie has gone on to her Maker, but moments like that; memories of family and friends; learning what Christmas was about; those things live on over the years. Time slipping away is just part of life, 2019 will be here soon, and I’m happy for that and the past days of my life, and all those sweet memories.