Back in February, my younger sister gave birth to her first child. Lucy is the fifth grandchild for my parents, but the first girl, and I suspect she is getting extra special treatment as a result.
Already, at the age of ten months, she is full of insatiable curiosity about the world around her. We visited the Palm House in Sefton Park a few weeks ago, and she was captivated by the colours and smells of the exotic plants, looking around the Victorian structure with wide-eyed wonder.
She has known only love and affection since the moment she took her first breath, and she repays that love to everyone she meets. She is an absolute joy to be around – full of happy noises and laughter, rarely crying unless she is sick or tired, always greeting people with a smile when they walk into the room.
Of course, we are all looking forward to sharing in her first Christmas, as she experiences the magic of the festive season for the first time.
And yet, as I gaze at that innocent face, I feel a tinge of sadness, knowing that the future she is facing is far from rosy.