It is December 24 in my world, and it is just after dawn.
This year is different than any other for me, though. For the very first time - ever - the Intrepid Junior Blogger will not be home for Christmas. This year she will spend it with her father in another city, and for the past few days I have poked at that, trying to see what I felt as I have a tendency to just barrel through difficult things telling myself I am too busy to take time to think, pushing all the troubling thoughts down deep.
Over the last year I have begun to write more about life as a single parent, touching on it here and in other pieces of work, and I have finally come to the point where I can write about it with a certain degree of freedom and confidence. There was a time when the subject was too treacherous, the ice far too thin to step out onto it for fear of falling through - but time and distance has thickened the ice and now I no longer feel that fear.
I am doing some writing these days to explore those early days of single parenthood, as well as what happens when your world changes in some deep and profound way, like a divorce or a death, or, as in my case, both. They are topics not right for this blog and not quite right for any other place, either, except perhaps a book which is an idea I have long considered possible and now seems more like reality than dream.
I sit this morning in solitude, a cup of coffee at my side and a cat curled up on the chair next to mine. I don't feel the way I thought I might about the absence of the IJB this year as I find myself not feeling sad but rather peaceful. I know she will have a good Christmas and so will I, as I intend to follow my usual traditions, watching every holiday movie ever made, drinking coffee with Bailey's and baking cookies. Somewhere along the way this year I realized that just as your world changes, so do you.
The IJB is growing up. She is not far away from leaving home entirely, and who knows how often she will return for the holidays? She is no longer the little girl who asked Santa for a panda bear or who wrote Christmas letters covered in glitter. She is a young woman and one I feel incredibly honoured to have in my world, at times not quite believing she is a part of me as she is much more than I could ever hope to be. This past year as I struggled with some health challenges she had to change too, as her world and mine changed once again, and I saw her grow before my eyes.
I suppose I could be sad today, missing her and wishing she was here but instead I find myself almost inexplicably happy, knowing that she will enjoy her Christmas and that when she returns we will have our own celebration. I feel at peace with the world and, most importantly, with my world, because it is one I have chosen and built and worked towards.
During the journey of this blog I have learned one truism that is valid for all of us: life changes. And as life changes so do you, but while you cannot always choose how life will change you can choose how you do.
I sit here this morning of Christmas Eve, lights dancing, coffee brewing, cat purring and snow drifting down and reflect on all the changes I have witnessed and experienced in the last few years, and all I can think is this: Merry Christmas, baby. Merry Christmas to my baby, no longer a baby but a young woman, and Merry Christmas to all of you, my readers who have seen and experienced some changes, too. Take this season to celebrate not only the triumphs but the challenges, because each and every one deserves a celebration. Life changes and on some occasions we have the opportunity to pause and reflect on those changes. For me today is one of those days - and it is a wonderful way to welcome Christmas indeed.