My first Christmas in Halifax County is here and I just wanted to take a few minutes to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.

I know this year has been one for the ages and one that we will never soon forget, but I hope everyone is able to still enjoy the holidays with loved ones in a safe manner.

I will be spending the holidays with my son, parents, brother and niece and nephew as we get together for dinner and opening presents. A small get together with the ones closest to me is the perfect way to spend Christmas.

Many years ago my grandmother would cook a whole prime rib for the family on Christmas. There would be a lot more of us gathering together back then to devour the prime rib, but even after my grandmother passed away my mother kept the tradition going, and I always look forward to our prime rib Christmas supper.

Once you have children, the excitement of Christmas transitions from what you get to watching as they rip open their presents. This year will be much different for me and my son. Due to certain circumstances this is the first year Santa will make a stop at two different houses, but he understands the situation and nonetheless we will make Christmas just as special as every other year.

I cannot wait to get to see him on Christmas day get to open all of his presents from Santa and then head over to my parents where him and his two cousins will get the opportunity to open up all of their gifts from their nana and papa. Just sitting back and watching the smiles on their faces and joy in their eyes is a gift in and of itself.

As the year comes to a close, and I get closer to my one-year anniversary at The Gazette, I want to thank those of you who have read my stuff and welcomed me into this great county. For the most part everyone has been very supportive and welcoming, even emailing or calling to give me story ideas, which I am greatly appreciative of.

It has been a unique first year to say the least. But through all of the unknowns and ups and downs I feel like I have become a better writer because of it. As the first high school games in over nine months are set to begin soon, maybe this is rounding the turn of a return to normalcy that we have all been wanting for so long.

Whatever happens I know that we will make it through no matter how hard it may seem at the time. I have learned that first hand in these last nine months.

Once again I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas and enjoy the time spent with those closest to you in your lives. In these trying times, make sure you hold those closest to you and tell them how much they mean to you.

Johnathan Kirland is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him jkirkland@gazettevirginian.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnathanK_GV