This Christmas will be unlike any in living memory and certainly not one that any of us would have wished for. The Covid-19 virus, which only a year ago, was nothing more than a minor comment in the news as something which had appeared in a part of China, has since swept the globe, resulting in death to millions. Distress and hardship have become commonplace and here in England, the Prime Ministerial announcement last weekend will have further disrupted the already curtailed celebrations for many. I am sure that we will all be reflecting on how life has changed so rapidly. Christmas is of course a religious festival, but it will not only be those of us who are Christians who will have the many who have suffered, in our thoughts and prayers.
Difficult times such as these do of course bring out the best in so many people. Those key workers who have selflessly continued during the pandemic: our brilliant NHS staff, who must have been under immense strain; other members of the emergency services; the refuse collectors who have kept our bins empty the whole year and those who have produced or supply food, they all deserve our grateful thanks, as indeed do the countless volunteers who have helped protect the vulnerable at this time.
Looking ahead to 2021 there is naturally concern over the future. The virus has demonstrated an ability to mutate and the new strain appears to be spreading more rapidly. As it has only recently been identified, we have still to learn what impact it will have. There is however cause for hope. With vaccines already approved and many others being developed, we can be more optimistic that by this time next year, we will be through the worst of this horrific period and that life, whilst in some respects changed forever, will have returned to that which for many years we have taken for granted. At that point, the challenge will be to rebuild our economy and create employment for those who have lost theirs as a result of the pandemic.
As I have already said, this Christmas will be very different for most of us. I send you my best wishes for an enjoyable time, coupled with hope that we will soon be able to once again meet up with friends, family and loved ones and celebrate.
Happy Christmas – stay safe!