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The season of ill will

Christmas 800 Photo: PA

The season of ill will

The pandemic has undoubtedly brought out the best in people.

The communities who organised shopping and medication deliveries for elderly or shielding neighbours, the tens of thousands of people who signed up for vaccine trials, the donations to foodbanks to help those struggling to feed themselves and their families, the appreciation for NHS staff as the country took to their doorsteps to applaud them every Thursday night.

But sadly, it has at times also brought out the worst in people.

The curtain-twitching in those early days of lockdown, calling out people who walked in groups with others who weren’t from the same household, those who dared to go out for more than one walk per day – and without a dog! – and when restrictions were eased during the summer, those who decided to throw caution to the wind and take flights abroad to enjoy a week in the sun.

The snide comments, the casual condemnation, the keyboard warriors hiding behind their social media accounts.

But in the run up to the so-called season of goodwill, that judgement has reached new heights. Or, to put it more accurately, new lows. 

The debate about whether you should or shouldn’t visit family this Christmas has become toxic, with those who have nailed their colours to the mast on each side of the argument displaying a quite shocking inability to even consider the reasons why people have come to their decisions.

At any other point in time other than the year 2020, it would be inconceivable that this would even be an argument.

But while there’s nothing much left to shock us this year, I have personally found the rhetoric surrounding festive arrangements one of the most difficult things to stomach.

Those who have decided it isn’t worth taking the risk to see family aren’t any more in the right than those who have opted to use the easing of restrictions as a window of opportunity to see their loved ones.

Those who have decided not to see relatives this year don’t love them any less, just as those who want to see their family aren’t being selfish or short-sighted.

I can see both sides of the argument and respect everyone’s decisions because let’s face it, nobody has taken them lightly.

These decisions are a personal choice and should not be the subject of comment, judgement or abuse from others.

But social media has become a message board for the self-righteous declaring why they are not spending Christmas with their relatives this year (in case you’re wondering, they don’t want to kill their loved ones, but apparently others do), as well as those who are determined to make the most of the time they have with the people they love while they can and are not going to let anything stand in the way of that.

On several occasions, I have been made to feel guilty about our decision to spend Christmas with my parents, but that stops now.

I just wish the public shaming and belittling would stop too.

Read the most recent article written by Gemma Fraser - Richard Leonard quits as Scottish Labour leader

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