CHRISTMAS is upon us once again. It feels to me like last Christmas only happened a couple of months ago and yet here we are again.

This year has flown by at lightning pace. I’ve said this a million times before, but I remember sitting in the pub back in January 2020 with my pal discussing the coronavirus and both of us agreeing that it wouldn’t come to anything.

Almost two years later, I still think about that conversation. Both of us said it was just media hysteria and it wouldn’t amount to anything anywhere near a pandemic.

Since then, time has moved as if it’s on fast forward and now I’m sitting at my desk, scared to leave the house in case I get Covid and deeply depressed at the state of the entire world.

Never before have I been so incredibly wrong about something. Well, that’s a lie – I did once say that Celtic would ‘definitely’ win ten in a row and I also even had the hubris to add ‘Why stop at ten?’.

I’ve decided that instead of being optimistic about everything and then getting it wrong and being left disappointed, I’m going to become a total nihilist so that when I’m inevitably wrong, I am instead left thrilled.

I’ve never been a huge Christmas fan and it’s been especially difficult for me to get up for it the last two years.

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It’s like living in fear of Covid has wrung every ounce of happiness out of me like I am a damp facecloth.

Before all this, I was once described in an interview as having the enthusiasm of a puppy.

Now I’m a wizened and bitter old hound in a kennel out the back in the rain. The pandemic has finally broken me.

All optimism and hope for the future is gone, replaced with a deep malaise and feelings of melancholy.

I’m half expecting to be visited by three ghosts on Christmas Eve who will try to show me the error of my ways.

I’ll wake up with a fright to see a small figure hovering over my bed. I’ll yawn and rub my eyes, expecting the apparition to disappear but it remains.

‘Who are you?’ I ask. The ghost seems to shimmer in the moonlight coming through the window.

‘Ahm the ghost ae Christmas past,’ it says. ‘An ahm here tae try and get you tae cheer up. C’moan,’ it says, extending a tiny, ghostly hand.

I am spirited away to Garthamlock in 1995. I am watching my four-year-old self, opening my presents next to my maw through my old living room window.

There is a huge smile on the face of this giant-headed child. ‘Cannae believe my heid was so big,’ I say.

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‘Still is,’ says the ghost. I am the living embodiment of pure joy at this stage of my life.

I open a Power Rangers toy and I watch my face light up before running to cuddle my maw.

‘An look at ye noo,’ says the ghost with a sneer. ‘Miserable, ungrateful swine.’ I feel immensely guilty.

The ghost takes my hand and we are flying through the air once more. ‘Ah don’t want tae go yet!’ I shout but I find I am back in my own home and in my own bed before I even know it.

Soon, another figure comes through the bedroom door. A taller one this time. ‘You the ghost ae Christmas present then, ah take it?’ It sighs.

‘Aye,’ it says. ‘Move.’ I do as it says. We don’t seem to go very far as we are now looking through the window of the house I live in now.

My girlfriend and her parents are laughing and joking as they decorate the Christmas tree.

‘Where am I?’ I ask. The ghost looks at me with pity as we float upwards to look in our bedroom window.

There I am. Perched on the end of the bed with my face tripping me, scrolling through my phone.

‘Chris, come down and see the tree,’ I can hear my girlfriend shout. ‘In a minute,’ I snap back at her.

‘Jesus christ,’ I say. 'Wit’s the matter wi me?'

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'Ye need tae get a grip,’ says the ghost. 'And cheer up.’

I’m back in my bed once again. Feeling tremendous amounts of guilt at the person I’ve become.

‘Ye want tae see wit the future’s got in store?’

‘Just tell me, mate,’ I say, head in my hands. ‘I don’t want tae see it.’

‘If ye don’t sort yerself oot, ye spend next Christmas up in the loft eating cauld beans. Is that wit ye want?’

‘Naw!’ I scream.

The ghost places an ice-cold hand on my shoulder and vanishes. It’s true, I think. I have let myself become a vessel of misery, an emotion that can be more infectious than even Covid.

It’s time to take stock of the things that are going good in my life, stop taking things and people for granted, stop wallowing in self-pity and get myself back on track.

I’m determined to enjoy this Christmas no matter what happens and I hope all of you can manage to do the same.