By Rev. Sarah-Kate Duran

The Revival Center, Paso Robles

The holiday season kicks off with a day distinctly set apart for giving thanks to the Creator and Giver of all good things (James 1:17). And these days really are Holy Days. For God is Holy, and we take this time to thank Him for all His blessings — namely for bringing our founding fathers’ ancestors to Plymouth Rock and thus the beginning of our great nation. Then, it is quickly followed by another month set to remember the birth of God’s Son, the Savior Jesus Christ. What a birthday party it always is. In so many aspects and traditions, you see the celebration of God’s amazing Gift to us.

Sarah Kate Duran
Sarah Kate Duran is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at

I’ve been pondering a lot this year about what makes a good year a good year. What makes a good life a good life? Is it the few big life-changing highlights? Or is it the day-to-day small blessings that surmount into seasons of big blessings and memories that last a lifetime? Not going to lie — 2022 was a difficult year for me. I went into 2023 with a different attitude and mindset. I didn’t want a repeat of the previous year. When I look back on 2023, I didn’t want to remember any negative events or circumstances; and believe me, there have been many. 


But what I chose to remember, focus on, and commemorate was going to be the good stuff. So even though 2023 was as challenging as 2022, if not more so, I was different. I chose to give my energy, time, and space in my memories for the little things that make my life fabulous! So, as you sift and flip through this December issue, let’s pause together, you and I, and take inventory of some of those wonderful blessings according to 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks…”

A Baby born in a manger. Shepherds that worshipped Him. Wisemen that searched for Him. Angels. Poinsettias. Generosity. Mistletoe. Ice skating. Breaks from school. City workers putting up Christmas wreaths on light posts. Hot chocolate. Stores that stay open a little later. Warmth of coffee shops. Being able to travel to see loved ones. Out of town company coming into town. Hot apple cider. New pajamas. Stocking stuffers. Candlelight church services. Parades. Big colorful old school Christmas light bulbs. Elegant Evening. Gift cards. Boots. Advent wreaths and calendars. Scarves. Rush delivery. Friends that have become family. Holiday showcases and recitals. Homemade gifts. Cambria Christmas Market. Sparkly dresses. Countdown to midnight on December 31. Snuggly throw blankets. Evergreen trees. Eggnog. Traditions. Charles Dickens. Amazon Prime. Colorful envelopes in the mail. Vehicles that sport reindeer antlers and red noses. Bing Crosby. Parties. Christmas specials on TV. Blow up characters in peoples’ yard. 

Radio stations playing Christmas music constantly. Craft bazaars. Christmas carolers. Miracle on 34th Street. The 12 Days of Christmas. Secret Santa gift exchanges. Yummy-smelling candles. Getting the boxes of Christmas decorations out of storage. Goal-writing for the new year. Christmas pageants. Children in bathrobes and sheets as costumes. Extra giving to charity. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Vine Street Christmas Victorian Showcase. Hot tea. Bonuses from work. Christmas ringtones on the phone. Almond Roca. Walking through the park hearing the crunching of leaves underfoot. Mini candy canes in plastic. Driving to look at Christmas lights. Peppermint. Gingerbread house competitions. Hallmark movies. Christmas carols overheard in retail stores. Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé coming out of hibernation. Cozy slippers. Turkey. Football games on the TV. Laughter from board games. People throwing PC out the window and wishing you a “Merry Christmas!”

As we end 2023, let’s look to 2024 with the expectation that something good is about to happen. My prayer for you is that all of God’s dreams for you will come true with nothing and no one standing in the way. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 


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