Last night on Christmas Eve Eve, we had a lovely catch up with friends and a surprise visit from my Uncle who was working in the area.  We were missing a some very dear friends who are living in America for the next few years.  They may not physically be here but they are always in our hearts.

Christmas can be a very busy time catching up with everyone.  It can also be a very reflective time of year.  Many people are missing loved ones because they are no longer here, or because they are separated by time or distance.  Others are separated for other reasons like work and that can also be incredibly difficult heading off to work on a day when it can feel like the rest of the world is sitting around and having fun.  We also think of the Emergency Services who keep us safe and well at Christmas time please look after yourselves so that they can get home safely to their families at the end of their shift.  Whatever the reason is it can be hard seeing all the joyous celebrations and reminders of what they do not have.  Spare a thought for them.  We also think of those who have nowhere to go or be at Christmas may you find shelter, warmth, a nice meal and some company to share it with.  
For my family Christmas is a time of religious significance where we celebrate the birth of Christ.  We do this through heading to Church, reflection on the year that has passed, the blessings that we have, time with our families and we also exchange gifts.  The tradition of gift giving at Christmas time is symbolic of the wise men offering gifts to Joseph & Mary in the stable when Christ was born.

The year that we have had has been an incredibly challenging one for us as a family including our wider families included in that is our friends as well.  Hopefully though we are through the worst of it and we can can focus on what is in front and not what has gone.  It has also I think (well from my notes and journals) one of growth for us as a family as well.  We have learnt that we have a resilience to bounce back; a strength to keep going even when it felt too hard; love lots and lots of love for each other and also we are surrounded by lots of love and it is this love that keeps us going; hope, that tomorrow will come and it will bring a new hope, a fresh beginning and a new book that is yet to be written.  Life without a sense of hope can be very scary but with every sunset is a promise of a new tomorrow and that brings with it a sense of hope even if it is just a glimmer it is there! 

Sure we have had some really tough times in the midst of all of this where we have all had to search deep down inside and find those reserves of energy to keep on going on.  There have been days on end when I was not just doing it one foot in front of the other but at times I was down to breath by breath.  Knowing that I was surrounded by all of love, hope, faith, and support it helped others were able to carry all of those things for me as a beacon like a lighthouse for me to aim at.  Life is by no means a picnic for me even now.  But I think it is better.  Every day is still very tough and confusing but that is ok, I love to write so I take lots of notes which helps, to orientate myself.  
Christmas will be down time for us as a family which will be nice.  We will get to see loved ones we haven’t seen for a long time.  We will get to spend time with each other (I think this will be nice – though please feel free to remind me of this when I am moaning about the kids getting on each others nerves.) 
I just want to take this opportunity to THANK everyone who has supported me or my family in anyway at all this year.  There are simply far too many people to thank individually but our wider families have been an enormous support to us and I know that we couldn’t have gotten to here without that.  Our friends who have supported us physically and emotionally throughout this year we really couldn’t have done it without you.  Our wider communities of schools, community groups and churches have been incredibly important this year as well.  All of this will not be forgotten (well it might be in the morning but I have it all written down I promise) and may we be there for you in your hour of need as well.  
Lastly wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Nice Public Holiday whatever the season means to you and your family enjoy it, hold your children tight, tell your family you love them (even the ones that annoy you), and most importantly keep safe.  If you are driving on the roads take it easy better to arrive a little bit late than not at all.  

love and hugs Cathy xoxo 

Do they know it’s Christmas? Band Aid 1984

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