In Belsay they have a light show in the gardens. It’s called Enchanted Belsay. I was there last weekend — but not for the light show.  We went during the day and the night-time magic looks a bit tacky in a daylight. It’s like the discarded wrapping paper after all the gifts have been opened. But for me Belsay is always enchanted. It’s is an enchantment of shared memories with and of  people I love: an enchantment of knowing the trees and how they will soon blossom. And Winter has her own agenda with regard to light. It slants in at angles and gilds everything it touches. It whispers a golden promise of renewal, wrapped in frosty breath.

Meanwhile, our little bungalow this time of year can be quite dark and so I do my best to have a few bright corners to cheer the place up, fully aware that as real light returns on Christmas morning, as it becomes a little noticeably lighter, they too will look a bit tacky and I will end up taking them down as soon as the festivities are over. All my decorations are years old. Every year they have done their usual job of making mid-Winter less s a d.

We have almost reached the Winter Solstice now and that means for many that the worst is over, the darkness is almost past and the year’s turning has come. However I can’t help feeling the darkness is lingering this year, and lengthening for those in our society who find themselves at the bottom of Boris Johnson’s priorities: the sick, the elderly, the poor, children with special needs, the homeless, the unemployed. I am reminded, in the works of C S Lewis and Tolkien, that one ray of light can defeat all the darkness around it and that even the smallest person can make a difference. And I am afraid for the planet. But perhaps if we stop buying stuff and change our lifestyle just a little, we can even have some positive effect.

I am going to hold that thought as we move forward into 2020. We can each bring hope on a daily basis into the world. Smile at someone. Donate to a foodbank regularly.  Reduce waste. It’s going to be an effort. I am not a natural optimist, but I am going to try to bring a little hope to someone every day, to shed a little light into the world and to carry on being part of the solution. That’s as much as anyone can do.

May you have a Happy Christmas and may 2020 be kind.