With a newborn and a seven-year-old, quiet is a rarity. But everyone is sleeping soundly after our first Christmas as one, big family.

This year has been one of the best, if not THE best year of my life. Getting married, gaining a step-daughter, growing a tiny human — it’s all more than I ever imagined.

Regular readers know that I’ve frequently joked (sort of) about what an awful year 2016 has been. An almost uncanny number of well-known, talented people have passed on this year, our entire political world was tased by the silent majority’s Death Star, and to top if off, the year is ending with a nation-wide whipped cream shortage.

I had an exceptionally rough pregnancy, had an equally tough time getting Baby Klara here, and then spent a week in the hospital waiting for her to be well enough for life outside of the womb. It was hard. Most of the time it sucked. “A lost year” I called 2016. Work-wise, I certainly didn’t accomplish what I’d hoped when 2016 was in its infancy.

But as the dog and I snuggle in the quiet, I’m more aware now than ever that some of the most important work I’ll ever do has been done in 2016 — laying the foundation for what’s already a wonderful marriage with the best man I’ve ever known, bringing a miraculous little life into this world, and becoming a parent to an amazing little girl with whom I’m completely in love. So many life-changing beginnings.

This musing is more than thankful introspection by Christmas tree glow, it’s a much deeper revelation that our purpose in life is deeply rooted in those around us. Sure, elections are important, but hearts and minds aren’t swayed by elections or the Electoral College, by social media campaigns or witty comebacks. Not even legislation can sway the leanings of the heart; change is a byproduct of our relationships.

Since I began in this big, bad political sphere, I’ve believed and preached on the virtue of relationships as the vehicle for righting this great American ship. I still believe in this vague Reaganism. Yelling at people online won’t fix anything, neither will electing the most conservative people in the entire planet from now until kingdom come. Policy might improve, taxes might decrease, but social decay? You can’t legislate that away.

Each day, my love for each member of our new little family intensifies. They have changed me. How I do life, how I see the world, and even how I write to you will never be the same; a true testament to the power of love-filled relationships.

“Love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming, power in the universe,” said Martin Luther King, Jr.

This Christmas, my wish, and prayer is this: in whatever manner we’re collectively able, may we operate out of love. Let us be the hand that lifts people up and gives them hope — true hope, and not an obstacle in their path. Let us endeavor to love even the most obnoxious ideological foe in the same way we’re loved. Let us focus more on our commonalities and less on our disagreements. And finally, may we all find peace, redemption, and purpose in the love with which we’re so richly blessed.

As I look ahead to the new year, I know it will be hard to top 2016. I’m excited to start another calendar with a full heart. And I’m happy I get to share this journey with you.

I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be able to earn my keep sharing thoughts crafted into words with you. I’m even more humbled that you read what I write and still come back for more

Merry Christmas.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye