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Understanding Changes Everything

I absolutely love Christmas. I love making my tree beautiful; I love baking the cookies that my children then give to all our neighbours; I love wrapping gifts and making them look stunning; I love carol-singing; I love making Christingles and I love opening my presents. And so I really really don’t have much time for people who openly moan about Christmas – you know the ones that start being negative as soon as the shops play Christmas music or seem to get cross when you give them a present.

Sarah is like that. I have only known her for 3 years but every year December 1st sparks off a cycle of negativity in her that I have always seen as slightly selfish. How dare she put a damper on my and more importantly her children’s enjoyment of the festive season. So Last year I confronted her and told her that I felt she was being unfair to her children and everyone around her with her negative attitude and her moods.

She looked directly at me, tears in her eyes and she told me what Christmas means to her. Sarah told me how her father first raped her on Christmas day, aged nine. Sarah told me how her mum died of breast cancer on Christmas Eve, aged 11 – leaving her in the ‘capable hands of her father’. She told me how she plucked up the courage to run away on Boxing Day, aged 14. She told me how she gave birth to her stillborn son on December 1st, aged 17. She told me how much she hated Christmas and she tried to commit suicide on Christmas Day, aged 25.

At that moment I understood. At that moment Sarah and I wept as she let me put my arms around her. That moment was not just the beginning of healing for Sarah but it was the beginning of a change in me.

Everyone has a story. That guy at work who you can’t bear to stand near because he smells like urine, the ‘naughty’ kid at the play centre, the ‘rude’ cashier at Tesco who won't get eye contact, the ‘failing’ parents at the toddler group who’s kids are out of control. They all have a story.

Understanding changes everything.

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