It is hard to believe another year has come and gone so quickly, and what a year it has been.
As the year comes to close, we stand on the precipice of an uncertain future.
Uncertainty is not always a harbinger of bad tidings. We are a resilient nation and in difficult times individuals, businesses and even some of our elected officials have risen to the challenge.
Like the main character in "Rocky," we take a great deal of punishment but continue to move forward. If you are a fan of the series, you are aware that character Rocky Balboa evolves and adapts to each new challenge without ever giving up his greatest qualities, persistence and determination.
In 2009, we will have old problems to solve and new challenges to face. The holidays are often when we indulge ourselves a little too much and this can cause the new year to get off to a slow start. So, I wish to remind you of some simple rules for the holidays:
• The best gifts are not always expensive. It truly is the thought behind the gift that is most treasured in years to come. Regardless of the hype, this year's "hottest" toy will be a forgotten memory very shortly.
• If you are going shopping, make a list, check it twice, and set a budget.
• Hand write a letter, not an e-mail, not a card. Actually take the time to write a letter and mail it. Let someone know how important he/she is to you and how he/she has positively influenced your life.
• Spend some time at a retirement home, children's hospital or with a local charitable organization getting packages for those in need. Maybe you cannot donate an item, but your time and assistance is a gift.
• Put aside your worries and your fears for at least one day. We so often let fear and anxiety control our lives that we stifle ourselves. Try to remember what it was like to be a child during the holidays with all the expectations. You may be able to face life's obstacles better when your mind gets a little rest.
Be persistent, be determined, set your sights on making 2009 the best year ever in the lives of everyone you care about. With this, my last column of 2008, I wish you all a merry Christmas, happy holidays and a very happy new year.