This post is inspired by Blog Nosh magazine’s Loads of Hope campaign.

So, this Christmas will be very, very different. I keep trying to tell myself that “different” does not have to be synonymous with “bad”, but it is difficult. The different Christmases have been bad in my experience. The year my son Daniel died was “different” and an air of sadness and despair hung about us, so close and thick we could taste it. The year my father left home was “different” and his absence was ever present, despite the addition of my first child. So while I fight daily to muster Christmas spirit in myself, and my children, the difference is there, making itself known, intruding into our happy thoughts, putting a damper on otherwise happy shopping trips.

This Christmas will be my first in 17 years as a single mother. My oldest daughter, now involved in her own life in Florida will be unable to be with us, my mother and sister will not be here. That is a LOT of different. With everything in me, I want this to be the best Christmas ever for my children, one they will look back on and remember fondly when they are adults, facing their own years of trials and adjustments. I want them to remember that this was the Christmas where there was no fighting, no strained silences. I want this to be remembered as the year there was no reason to monitor what they say, to monitor their tone of voice. I want this to be the Christmas of laughter, of joy, of hope.

Next Christmas will be different as well. to be sure. Next Christmas we will have the familiarity of new traditions, hesitantly formed this year, in a fumbling, tentative dance of trial and error. Next year will be easier. This year, as I look at my childrens’ unsure, anxious faces, I am filled with hope. Hope for our future, hope for their happiness, hope for this magical time of year, differences and all.

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