This has been an amazing Christmas for me. Two very special gifts came my way when I reconnected with two dear friends I had not talked with in more than a decade. They contacted me, separately, out of the blue to say "hello," and we made arrangements to get together. I had dinner with one of them, Judy, a couple of weeks ago, and we had a wonderful time catching up with each other's lives and laughing over shared memories.

Another dear friend, Betsy, surprised me with a telephone call at work about a month ago. She and I worked at the newspaper in Allendale back in the late 1970s. She was the advertising director of The Allendale County Citizen, and I was the editor. We were as close as sisters. In fact, all of us on the newspaper staff were like a family. We were so young and carefree back then, and we always had so much fun together.

When Betsy called, it was like we had just talked to each other the day before. We didn't skip a beat; nothing had changed. We plan to meet for lunch next week.

Life has a way of overwhelming us. We get so wrapped up in our own worlds that sometimes we drift out of each other's lives -- sometimes forever. I thank God for bringing Judy and Betsy back into my life. It's a wonderful Christmas gift! They had always been in my heart even though I had lost touch with them. Reconnecting with them made me realize how much I missed their actual presence.

I believe in the miracle and magic of Christmas, and sharing it with my friends and family means the world to me. We were able to do that on Saturday during our 10th annual Christmas Brunch, when our home was filled with love and laughter. We consider the brunch our gift to our friends and family, decorating the house and preparing all the food ourselves. As we do every year, we had a great turnout and lots of fun. Judy was there, too, but Betsy's husband had to work so they couldn't make it. I'll see her next week, though.

My heart is full this Christmas and will be throughout the coming year. I am filled with love for my family and friends and for my Savior, and I am surrounded by their love and His. I am truly blessed.

Merry Christmas!

Contact the writer: cbarker@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5525.

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