Although this can be a challenging time of year, I love nothing better than a crisp, blue, sparkly winter’s day, and the Christmas lights make me smile. And I love that there are ice rinks popping up all over the place. I passed one at the Pavillion in Brighton last week, and had the pleasure of attending an evening event at Somerset House, where the courtyard is now a winter wonderland of skaters and festive lights. I’m lucky. I have a warm home, a loving partner, friends and family, a good job, and good health. My thoughts lately have been turning to my cousin in Kansas, Mandy, who has had the worst possible year and must be dreading this holiday season. Mandy’s a lovely person. We don’t know each other well, because she went to live in the USA when she was a baby; but we met up at a family celebration a couple of years ago, and I was struck by her warmth and gentleness. She’s a school nurse, and I imagine the children must love her. This summer, the worst thing that can happen to any parent happened to Mandy. Her son Jefferywas on his way back home from a tour in Afghanistan – he was a Marine – and decided to detour to the Grand Canyon with his friend. He got too close to the edge and fell to his death. He was just 20 years old. And now Mandy is struggling with breast cancer. As if she and her husband and other two children, not to mention her parents, hadn’t been through enough. So, very unusually, I’m ending this blog with a request, and that is that if you pray or meditate, that you include Mandy in your prayers and meditations. I’m taking some quiet time to do just that each morning. Please join me.