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On a day like today when you can’t see the sky, it’s hard to not have a similar gloomy outlook on life.

On my way to work I avoid death 3 times on my bike, witness the ongoing tagging battle take place on the side of a University building, the fresh cream paint once again attacked with initials of the mysterious WG and try to avoid running over two adults blindly looking for Pokémon at 8am by the War Memorial surrounded by freshly laid plastic red poppies.

I am finding this slow crawl to Christmas difficult; the year has passed by in a whirlwind with something heart breaking in the news every week… Brexit, Syria, Trump, Fracking, Sheffield Trees to name but a few. How do we take the straight, sparkly path towards Christmas with a smile on our face, when who is to say 2017 will be better than 2016?

There a few things that I look to when faced with the inevitable winter blues;

Lanterns; you have to try really hard to not walk away from a lantern carnival with your cheeks aching from smiling so much. With lantern carnivals popping up in Tinsley, Darnall, Sharrow, Wincobank and Parkwood Springs there is no excuse during the winter months to not get involved. From making a lantern of your own, volunteering at the workshops or events or just having a dance down the street parading your lantern, these gatherings are true celebration of the community and creativity.

Decorations; I ask myself every year why don’t we have sparkle all year around? Maybe a compromise is the pop up creative surprise on your way to work; The Herd of Sheffield bought us beautiful elephants to brighten up our city landscape and it was a real celebration of the artistic talent in Sheffield. Adults and children alike fell in love with these bright and sometimes courageous (a few got attacked) creatures. Now there are quotes on the pavements that show up in the rain as part of the Year of Making and local artists have transformed our streets into galleries, particularly around Abbeydale road and in the city centre. I don’t know what the next thing will be but I know Sheffield will make me smile somehow on a weekly basis because of its creativity and spontaneity.

Our makers: It’s been a theme for those in the creative sector this year to celebrate the makers of our city but look anywhere and you will see generous, hard working, passionate and willing activists and artists in any sector. In times of hardship and chaos people pull together to send warm clothes to refugees, to ensure our children get to use their imaginations in school, to keep our streets litter free and to save our beautiful trees.

I try to reassure myself on those days when you can’t see the sky, that it’s still there, blue, cloudless and bright under the warm sun and we are all trying, so hard to help ourselves and the people around us to see it.

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