I came upon some old columns the other day and smiled when I read one in which I waxed nostalgic about how fast my children were growing, and that I couldn’t believe they were already 14, 11 and 8.

Suddenly, it seems, my two sons, Brendan, and Thomas, are 23 and 21, and their little sister, Ellen, is a 17-year-old high school senior. I know I’m misusing the word “suddenly” because the definition is, of course, something that happens quickly.

However, it does feel like the past nine years passed in the blink of an eye, and now my children are young adults, two of whom are on their own. I miss those days when we all lived under the same roof, but I’m grateful that our bonds still are strong and that when we do get together we thoroughly enjoy each other's company.

Coordinating schedules is harder now, especially with Thomas being a member of the U.S. Marine Corp. Because of the difficulties associated with scheduling, I believe we appreciate it more when we are together.

This year, for the first time since 2017, all five of us will be together in our rural Larimore, N.D., home for Christmas. We didn’t make any plans, except for carrying on traditions, such as opening gifts on Christmas Eve, attending Mass together on Christmas Day and going to my sister and brother-in-law’s house the next week to celebrate a late Christmas with their family.

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This year, even more than others, I treasure these family moments, because COVID-19 has reminded me that life is a precious gift and that we need to appreciate every moment. I’m not anxious to put 2020 behind me. I know, not only because of the loss of lives during the coronavirus pandemic but because of other life experiences, that the only moment we can count on is the one we are in. I want to treasure each of those moments, rather than overlooking them to focus on the future.

That’s not to say l am not looking forward to the future because I am. Each new day, whether it be Dec. 31, 2020, or Jan. 1, 2021, holds possibilities and promise.

Assuming that the next nine years pass as quickly as the last nine, I hope that in late 2029 I’ll be reflecting back on how much my children have changed, and yet stayed the same. If those future plans aren’t the reality, I know that whatever the future holds, as a member of God’s family, my husband, our children and I are in safe hands.

As Julian of Norwich, a Christian mystic who lived during the Bubonic plague, said, “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

From my family to you and yours, wishing you precious moments and the faith to believe that all will be well today, tomorrow, in the New Year and beyond

Ann Bailey is a Herald reporter who writes a personal column twice each month.