The gifts of 2016 weren't sweetly wrapped in chic silver bows beneath a popcorn-trimmed tree. Rather its gifts were hiding under piles of muck, mire, and metaphorical dirty diapers. 2016 made us work for its rewards; an ongoing dichotomy. Low meeting high. Pain meeting beauty. Injustice meeting a renewed fervour for truth.
Despite it not being "my" holiday, I've always enjoyed Christmas, or at least the "spirit" of it. But in December of 2014 -- much like this year -- I was having a really hard time getting into it.
The trouble is, darkness doesn't go away during the Holidays. If anything, it can feel deeper, more acute. Perhaps that's why we work so hard to brighten things up with lights and candles, and reach out to those who are in need. Sometimes, a little extra care can make all the difference to a friend or neighbor in need.
"The winter months are even more brutal for children inside Syria. I saw children who fled their homes with nothing but the clothes on their back. After the horrors they have lived through, now they have to cope with the piercing cold."
The seven-year-old gained international attention for her tweets from the besieged Syrian city.
If there is anyone to blame, it is -- and can only be -- the governments implicated in this internationalized conflict. Those who support the armed groups, both militarily and logistically, and those who oppose the international justice system investigating the atrocities and crimes perpetrated in this conflict are all to blame.
Many were tweeting videos amid the destruction.
Much of Aleppo has vanished, but can still be found in these photos.
The challenge for Canadian foreign policy is to mitigate the risks of the rebels faltering in Aleppo, with the more long-term strategic challenge of Russia and Iran's vicious play for power. Should Aleppo fall, an even more dystopian region will emerge.
Syrian state forces have been bombing the region.