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Jack Swift wishes his readers a Happy New Year

I hope you had a great Christmas. Christmas time is always a busy time for most folks. I hope it wasn’t so busy that Christ was left out of the time set aside to celebrate His birth.
Christmas is a year from now and New Years Day looms ahead. What will we do with 2014? A new year has been likened to a clean slate. We don’t use slates to write these days, but in an earlier time slates were used in school and I suppose at home also. One way of describing a slate is that it is a miniature blackboard that students could carry around with them.
Anyway, the upcoming year challenges us to make the best of it. Decisions we make often have long-term consequences. And those consequences may be good or bad, depending on the decisions we make. Sometimes unintended consequences crop up when they are least expected. Robert Burns, who is considered one of the world’s greatest lyric poets, expressed that concept when he wrote in his poem, “To a Mouse:”
“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief and pain,
For promised joy!
Of course, as you can tell, Burns wrote in Scottish Dialect. That short excerpt from that famous poem expresses the concept that even with the best of ideas, the most preparation and the best execution of those plans, they sometimes fail.
Is that a good reason for not trying to meet the challenges of the New Year? Of course not! We must somehow try to make the best of the future.

I believe one of the best ways we can embrace the New Year is to resolve to learn as much as possible during those 365 days. Read often. Choose books of history, of biography, of science and at some level understand the basic principles of them. If interest is stirred about a particular subject, go back and dig into it more extensively.
According to The Illustrated Columbia Encyclopedia, in the Middle Ages, the New Year was celebrated among Christians usually on March 25. After the adoption of the Gregorian calendar the day was observed on the first of January.

My hope and prayer is that the year 2014 will be a great year for everyone. May God’s blessings be on each of you. As the old year ends, I want to express my sincere “Thank You” for taking the time to read my column each week. I really appreciate it.