Each year, when Christmas arrives and a new year is right around the corner, we reflect on the past twelve months.

Those of us who write at RedState spend quite a bit of time discussing politics and current events. You, our faithful readers, absorb and comment on the opinions we share. And we are grateful. To say that 2017 has been dramatic would be an understatement. Currently, the political landscape is tense, tribes on all sides have dug their feet in, and 2018 looks to be just as divisive.

But as much as we enjoy the political discourse, this is obviously not all there is to life. There are many layers to each person’s existence, yet most go unseen by others. Often, we keep the uncomfortable aspects of our lives and personalities locked away, out of reach from all but our own selves.

When writing mostly about politics, these aspects of our lives rarely make an appearance. Despite that fact, they still affect our days, routines, and the writing you see on these pages.

For me, the hope of Christmas means more than usual this year. You see, in 2017 plenty of my moments were overshadowed by lingering postpartum depression.

I’m a first-time mom to an energetic, curious, jabbering seventeen-month-old boy. His life has brought unspeakable joy into mine. Children open up a place in the heart that has never before been touched. The happy ache you have for them alone is palpable. As someone who is fiercely and vocally pro-life, going through the stages of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood myself has further solidified my stance. I am more resolute in my determination to be a voice for the voiceless unborn. As a writer, it is my greatest passion.

Along with the overflowing happiness that comes with motherhood has come the overwhelming sorrow of depression. I understand that I cannot control the hormonal changes and chemical distractions that often invade my brain. But they are there.

In 2017, they routinely suffocated my mind and its ability to see things clearly. Many times, they kept me from one of my favorite pursuits; writing. These were my “dark days.”

Which brings us to Christmas.

I love many of the beautiful, traditional songs that are sung during the season. One is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” And this year, on the back end of difficulties, the lyrics jump out at me in a way they never have in all my years of singing them.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Those “gloomy clouds of night” have sat heavily upon my shoulders in the past calendar year. They were difficult – and sometimes, impossible – to shrug off. I was embarrassed by their existence for a good long while. In the midst of almost routine internal sadness, in the reality of my up and down year, those clouds have been eclipsed by the purest hope of all: the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ, whose arrival we celebrate on Christmas day.

Notice, if you will, the lyrics. Those oppressive clouds aren’t a maybe, they’re a most likely. They will darken our days and they will come in many forms. This year, the clouds of depression often swallowed me whole.

But…Christmas.

There is nothing like it. In the midst of our hectic lives filled with real joy and immense pain comes a season where nearly everyone seems to breathe a collective sigh. Not so much of relief, but of realization. During a time when gifts are beautifully wrapped and waiting under a tree, we’re reminded that people are the dearest treasures of all. We’re reminded that time goes by quickly.

Most of all, we’re again reminded of the ultimate gift, the birth of the savior. The ultimate hope, the ultimate lifting of gloomy clouds, finally realized. He is joy incarnate.

This is the miraculous and calming reason for the season.

And for me, ending on a beautiful note of hope tastes sweeter than ever. This is the raw and the real meaning for me this year.

It is indeed a merry Christmas.