Finding the reason for the season
The Christmas season is an important marker in time: as many know, I am a woman of faith and at this time I remember Jesus as the reason for the season.
Every year, I take time to reflect on the past 12 months, the memories made, and I meet with loved ones. The years go by and are full of challenge and wonder, but this is one constant.
If you had told me a year ago that I would be writing to you, my constituents, as the MP for Peterborough, I would have been astounded. Certainly, I had been working towards this goal, but like many, I thought a General Election was unlikely to occur before 2020. I thought that after a tumultuous 2016, the last thing any leader would want to do is unleash yet more politics on a weary public. Yet, here we are. Here I am: every day, I feel blessed to serve my neighbours and fellow Peterborians. This role has involved a steep learning curve; I am fortunate in having exceptional mentors. It has been an enlightening experience: Parliament concentrates the talents, aspirations, fears, strengths and frailties of the nation. It is my duty and that of the other MPs to turn this jumble of characteristics into effective service to our constituents.
There are days when hopes soar; there are days when it is a tough slog. Nevertheless, I have high hopes for 2018.
Parliament will have an essential role to play in holding the government accountable.
Finally, we are starting to see some of the detail of Brexit. I will continue to fight for a deal that protects employment and the rights of working people. We have deep-seated economic problems. I will continue to push for policies that give us a modern infrastructure, and look to improve education.
Crime and anti-social behaviour are still issues: we cannot do policing on the cheap. Pushing the government to realise this will be another top priority of mine in 2018.
I feel positive about the local elections in 2018; we have a group of exciting candidates ready to take on the challenges of running Peterborough. They represent modernity: for example, the candidate for Hargate and Hempsted, Callie Hargreaves, is a young mother who became involved in politics because she saw how cuts to local services were affecting her family. She is getting involved for the right reasons - because she wants to make life better for her family and community.
But all this lay ahead: the beauty of December lay in its gentle pause to the rhythms of life, and for a time, politics and tumult can be set aside.
It is in that spirit I wish everyone safe, blessed and Happy Christmas.