Hope is in the detail

I love the Christmas I imagine, full of laughter and conversation, of time to play games and munch chocolate and eat freshly baked cinnamon buns. That Christmas lives in my head and my heart, made up of bits and pieces that have happened over many, many years.

The reality of Christmas is, of course, much different. For many years, it has involved rush and working in the kitchen until I hurt and lots of adaptation and negotiation. It's hard to find words like "peace" and "joy" in the midst of so much chaos and stress.  It would be popular to advocate opting out, but that's like opting out of family. It comes with low benefits and a high cost.

So here's my word for Christmas: hope. Hope is not the absence of chaos or pain, and it's not a guarantee that anything will get better. It's just the small thing left at the bottom of Pandora's box that allows us to do the right thing or take the next step. Hope is less about changing the world, and more about changing the way we respond.

Hope for me will be sharing stories with the class where I volunteer. It will be baking my Grandma's shortbread. It will be the few hours when both my boys are home at the same time. And this year it will be the big eyes of my three month old grandson as he watches the lights on the Christmas tree.

If you don't celebrate Christmas, this is a hard time of year. The days are short and dark and surprisingly cold. Everywhere you go there are signs of a party that isn't for you. It's worth noticing that if you do celebrate Christmas, you're probably in pretty much the same boat. The days are still short and dark and surprisingly cold. And all around you are signs that other people are 'doing' Christmas much better than you.

Where do you find hope? It's in the details. So look hard. Look at the lights on one tree, eat one cookie, feel a scarf around your neck or a mitten warming your fingers. Hope is what we do with our eyes and our ears, seeking out moments when life is exactly right and signs that even in the cold and the chaos, good things might happen. The guarantee of that isn't written in the stars. It's held tightly in your own hands, fuelled by your own will power.

Hope is a choice you can make.


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