But the most hopeful messages I've seen of late, from the sane voices of people like Caroline Lucas, George Monbiot, and Brendan Cox, exhort us to do what we can, where we are. I've joined the Green Party this year, and made contributions, where able, to charities which are out there doing the necessary work on the ground, both here and abroad. I hope to keep an open mind, make an effort to be informed of the facts, and offer service, where I can, to help others.
I took down my kitchen calendar off its peg yesterday to copy the birthdays onto my new one, and as I went through it I was reminded, once again, that while the larger joys and sorrows of mankind played out in the wider world, I was fortunate to have my annual share of good things, the everyday activities that make my world go round: haircuts in the kitchen, yoga classes, visits to family and friends, and hospitality reciprocated, fellowship with like-minded others, shopping and cooking, reading and cinema, music, occasional trips to museums and exhibitions, walking and talking, feeding the birds, working and resting, the sadness of those who we have cherished passing away mixed with the celebration and shared love of my niece's wedding, an old friend's 70th birthday party - the list goes on!
I try not to take these things for granted, knowing that there are many who don't benefit in the same way. I write a gratitude list every night before I go to sleep, and in the last year the gifts of being a grandmother have featured - our beautiful grand-daughter shows us, as my son did when he was a child, a picture of what we so often forget: the wonder, merriment and joy of living in the now, of bearing no grudge or bitterness in the heart, the pleasure of munching on plump raspberries ...we adore her!
I write at least three things, and very often there are more, but what crops up most are the basic building blocks of life, that we all must surely need in common: a quiet, peaceful, warm, dry, safe home; three nutritious meals; good health (which, if we have it, we can count, if we are wise, as the equivalent of having won the lottery every time we wake); doing our allotted work as well as we can; and a loving, kind, tolerant, patient companion (in this case my husband) - with whom I share so much laughter, still, after 40 years together. Life is not all plain sailing, but these things have got me through the difficult painful times, along with the help, as I believe, of something far greater than myself.
Of all the Christmas films I annually cry over (including It's A Wonderful Life) which encourage me to accept the things I cannot change, I naturally treasure most that which personifies my own cultural heritage and sums up the hope of finding redemption from darkness and hard-heartedness - Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol. Whatever your higher power is, or is not - 'the force that through the green fuse drives the flower', the love that will not let you go, or just what is larger than your individual existence, then I pray, in the year to come, as Tiny Tim does, "God bless us, every one".