Like many Glaswegians I will spend Christmas day on my own with either rehashed television classics or Radio 4 for company. At some stage in the afternoon my son will call me from Essex to pass on his regards and make sure I have not yet tanned the entire bottle of fine port he sent me. To be fair, this has been my Christmas for the past several years and I am perfectly content with it. Covid has changed all our lives this year but it will not have much effect on my Christmas.

Sadly, for many people, this Christmas will only serve to highlight the sense of separation and loneliness they have experienced for many months now. I have lost count of the number of people I have spoken to who have relatives or friends, often elderly or infirm, who they have not seen since lockdown. Some, they genuinely fear, they may never see again. A time of year when we usually celebrate coming together will instead bring focus on the cruel fact that we are apart.

For others, the financial pressures that have been increasing week on week will mean that the sort of Christmas that they would normally enjoy will be simply unaffordable. The presents below the tree, if there is a tree, will be meagre and the festive meal little different from any other day of the week. For adults that may be unfortunate, but we mostly muddle through. It is children, more than anyone, who will miss out and find it hard to understand why Santa has been less generous than last year.

That’s why, when I do eventually open that bottle of 20 year old port, I will be raising a glass not only to absent friends but to all the volunteers, community groups, faith groups, churches and charities who have worked tirelessly over the past month to make Christmas just a little better for us all.

The Glasgow Times launched its own Toy Bank Appeal with commercial and credit union partners. I know of numerous other, locally based, toy appeals that have been active across Glasgow. Many of the big food retailers have donation points where you can deposit essentials, and perhaps a few treats, for the local food bank. Even though today is Christmas Eve you can still donate if you have not already done so.

Councillor colleagues, from all parties, have also bee active in their communities supporting local initiatives and helping local charities. Their efforts may merit a second glass of port.

Vaccines and mutations permitting, Christmas 2020 will hopefully be remembered as a one off. Most of us will return to normal though we need to understand that loneliness and poverty will still be the normality of their daily lives. It would be nice to think that one of the lessons that we learn from this year is that we all share a responsibility to improve the lives of everyone in our community. Eradicating poverty and ending isolation is not just for Covid.

So, finally, please do have as joyous a Christmas as your circumstances will allow. And, if you have a moment, pick up your phone and call at least one person you know that is spending the day on their own for the first time. You never know, it might make their day.