Scotsman Comment: It’s always darkest before the dawn

It was as recently as Wednesday that Prime Minister Boris Johnson told us to have a “merry little Christmas” before imploring: “And I’m afraid this year I do mean little.”

From today, the days get longer, and moods will lift
From today, the days get longer, and moods will lift

Since then our Christmases have become even more little with new rules announced on Saturday cutting the relaxation of restrictions to one day only, and the introduction of a ban on travel from Scotland to the rest of the UK over the festive period. From Boxing Day, all of the mainland will fall under Scotland's toughest Level F our rules.

After nine months of sacrifice these latest restrictions are hard to bear. While other celebrations, such as Hanukkah and Eid, were severely curtailed by the pandemic, Christmas was often proffered by political leaders as a ray of light in the darkness when, if we followed the rules, friends and family could enjoy a much-longed- for slice of normality in the company of loved ones.

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Now those plans are dashed for millions of people and there seems very little from which we can take any solace. Of course, it would be preferable to mark the day in the manner to which many of us have become accustomed , with large gatherings of family and friends exchanging gifts and overindulging around the dinner table.

But perhaps this year’s enforced scaling back of proceedings might bring into sharper focus the true meaning of Christmas, with the sharing of love and goodwill all the more heartfelt for the festivities having been pared back.

It is also worth bearing in mind that today is the darkest day of the year. From tomorrow, it will become lighter each day. And so too the gloom that has cast a dark shadow over all our lives since March will lift, little by little, as vaccines are rolled out and the population gradually becomes inoculated against this dreadful disease.

In the meantime we must all stay safe this Christmas by following the rules, no matter how frustrating or even upsetting this may be. In so doing, we can perhaps console ourselves with the thought that later in 2021 we can be together again with those who are most dear to us.

When that time arrives at last, whether at Easter or even into the summer, one can only imagine that many of those moments of reunion will be more treasured than any have been before.

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