This year has been challenging. We’ve had tough years before, the year of the earthquakes and the year Juliet died were both horrible, but this year has felt relentless in a way we haven’t experienced before.

We’ve mourned the death of a close family friend and been rocked by the news that Jamie’s dad has cancer. We’ve been flooded, fought with our insurance company and learned that this is an on-going risk. We’ve lived with the uncertainty of merging schools and constant change.

There have been good bits too. We got engaged, my job was made permanent, I turned 40 and the world didn’t end. The kids took up instruments (Crispin learns sax and Ferdi trombone) and discovered the joy of making music. Ferdi learned mandarin and archery. Crispin reenacted Monty Python skits with his school drama group and started attending the high school two days a week to work on computer programming.

We come to the end of the year battered and exhausted, knowing that, while some things can be left in the past, some of this year’s hardest parts are unlikely to ease in the near future. I don’t make New Years resolutions but I wish for strength and courage, resourcefulness and humour, and the ability to stop and see beauty and joy no matter what is raging around us.