When I look back at the year just ending there will be so many things to reflect on. Watching my gorgeous Granddaughter change from baby to toddler, taking her first steps and finding her voice. Delighting in every stage, we simply could not love her more. Taking equal pride in her Mum and Dad, who have come through tough times, now more positive than ever, they are an amazing team.
A summer spent in a Welsh garden, nestling in the hills, our own little bit of paradise. We were joined this year by friends and family, creating happy memories of fun in the sunshine. We built a shed, we planted and watched the flowers bloom. We laughed here, perhaps more than I ever have before. Getting to know new friends, joining neighbours for Pimms and beer, swapping stories and finding shared interests.
Waving my daughter off on her adventures, hoping that the world will love her as much as I do was tricky, but then finding to my delight that she makes friends easily and is living in the moment every day. I couldn’t ask for more for her than what she wishes for herself. Her spirit, her sense of fun and her friendliness equips her well wherever she chooses to be.
In the middle of family life I was beginning to feel a bit rootless, wondering what I should be doing with myself and how I could find my own place in the world again. Social media brought new friends, people from across the world and I have loved getting to know these people, talking often, sometimes too often.
Then came the end of the summer and with it news of the refugee’s walking across Europe in search of a new normality, their homes destroyed and lives threatened they set off to in hope towards a new life. Shocking images leapt into the living room and were not forgotten. They are not forgotten yet. It took me weeks to work out if there was anything I could do to help them on their journey, but once I worked it out a whole world I had never imagined lay before me.
Once I saw into this world there was no going back. In the midst of helplessness and despair there was one amazing focus. There are lots of people, just like me, coming together to help. All my life I have wanted to change the world, this year was the year I worked out how to do it! I know whatever I do, here in England may not change very much for very many, but there are hundreds of people just like me, everywhere, and together we are changing things.
I understand that we cannot stop bombing and war, that some people will continue to hate, and there will sadly be many more babies dying in the seas. But the wonderful network of people across the world and especially within Europe are making a difference every day. The small acts of kindness together are comforting those on the journey. A new pair of shoes, a warm coat, a kind word and food in the belly. All provided with love and care from strangers, some of whom are now amongst my dearest friends. The strong and brave people who put their lives on hold and give time and love to those arriving on the shores of Europe, guiding boats into safe beaches, treating the sick, feeding the crowds.
So in a year when so many governments across the world turned away from those in need, when the mega force of media magnates raged against people who happened to live and love in a place of war, when my country inexplicitly elected politicians that were never going to care about anyone but themselves, where we could have given up hope, we didn’t. Instead we got off our sofas and did something, and this alone meant that we were joined with many more people who also did the same.
As we leave this year behind and move into 2016 I cannot help but think that 2015 will be remembered forever as the year the world began to change. The year that ordinary people worked together in spite of governments, in spite of people telling them it was hopeless. A wave of hope and friendship was forged, where it no longer was enough to give a bit of cash to an appeal, when people power was harnessed and help was offered.
As I watched my Granddaughter this afternoon, working out her world, laughing and playing, safe, loved, warm and well, a part of my heart was lost to all the other toddlers, the Mums and Dads, the Nana’s and Pop’s who love as passionately as I do, to the people still walking towards safety, those sleeping in tents in the snow and the children playing in the mud in a camp. I hope they know ordinary people are coming to help them, that we care and we will not longer leave it up to someone else.
I start this new year in a positive yet reflective mood. I have hope that the human race may yet be won with kindness and love, and that we will all choose to offer the hand of friendship to others. I understand I am the luckiest of people, I have all that I need and most of what I want. May 2016 be kind to you all.