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Once again it is time for holiday cheer and gift giving. I can remember as a child, running down the steps in my 'footed pajamas' to see the lighted, shining, glorious tree with mountains of packages underneath. Christmas always seemed like a morning of miracles. Most of us can easily recall a favorite gift from a Christmas past. I can remember one of my favorites was a ten-speed bike I received in my early teens. I had that bike for twenty-five years and it was well used during that time.

Oddly enough, I think my favorite gift of all time was not a Christmas gift. In fact it wasn't a birthday or Fathers' Day gift either. One day my son, Dan, came into my bedroom and said he wanted to give me something. He was probably somewhere between eight and ten years old. Cupped in his hand was a painted clay dragon, about three inches long and two inches wide. He said, "This is my dragon and I want you to have it." As a child, Dan loved dragons and dinosaurs, they were precious to him. I couldn't imagine him parting with one, yet he did. I think that is why that dragon became one of my favorite gifts, the fact that he wanted to give me something that was precious to him. Sometimes the true value of a gift is not the cost, but what the gift means to the person giving it and the person receiving it. Thinking of gifts, I now turn your attention to the gift of family and update you on our family.

Jake turned eighteen this year and is now a senior at Washington Township High School. He has been accepted at Rowan College at Gloucester County and for the moment is a Liberal Arts Major. He has a small circle of friends with whom he spends much of his free time. Jake is looking forward to his senior trip to Disneyland and his graduation in the spring.

Dan is a freshman at Rowan College at Gloucester County, studying digital photography. He is already looking forward to winter break which begins December 13. Dan recently got a job and is working at Regal Movies in Washington Township. He is adjusting to being on his feet for six to eight hours a day, but he seems to like working there and he does enjoy getting paid. One of the perks of working at a theater is being able to see movies for free.

Amy is beginning her fourth year at Murray & Becker CPA's. For those who don't know or remember, Amy was adopted as an infant and never knew her biological parents. In 1987 she found out through the adoption agency that she had a sister (Laura) from her biological mother. This spring, through DNA testing, Amy learned that she has two brothers and a sister from her biological father. Last summer her youngest brother, his wife, his mother and step-father journeyed to meet her. In November, Amy traveled to Georgia to spend some more time with them and also met her "new" sister. It has been an exciting year for her meeting all these "new" relatives.

As the year comes to a close, I will have been the pastor of Trinity for fourteen years. The church keeps me busy and I am glad that I don't have to look for things to do since things to do always seem to find me. I spent some time in a prison. The Rutgers Alumni Association toured the Eastern State Penitentiary and fortunately I was able to attend. When my schedule permits, I try to attend alumni events. The Alumni Association often plans informative and fun events for its members.

We hope that during this holiday season, amidst the long lines at stores, flaring tempers, and excessive traffic, you have time to enjoy the great gifts of family and friends.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!