Wishing you all a Peaceful Christmas and a better New Year

No one can pretend we’ve had a year like this before in any of our lifetimes. 2020 will go down as a brutal time. Astonishingly, I know even now some doubt that this pandemic is real or serious, but it is. I speak regularly with our health professionals and they tell me that it won’t take much to fill our hospital beds and they are dreading the New Year. Lucky people – I am one of them – who had a serious bout of Covid-19 and, due to the medical skills of our doctors, nurses and those who support them, survived. But I do think about those many families here in Rochdale and beyond who lost a loved one. I know some of those families and Christmas will be a lonelier time this year. I think about the confusion at our ports and the general state of chaos. I could write about the incompetence of the way some of this has been handled but let’s leave that for the future.

It seems odd in the middle of all this to count our blessings but it’s the very heart of our common humanity that we look for hope and cheer in the direst of times. It is the nurse who goes the extra way to help someone in need. We were right to clap our NHS workers earlier in the year but if you know one, remember to thank them even now. It’s the bio-medical scientists who not only worked out what the virus was all about but have come up with a vaccination. It’s the volunteers who took part in the early trials of the vaccine, putting our collective good first. It’s the kindness of those making our food banks work, looking after one another. And of course it’s the Captain Tom’s or 9-year-old Freddie Xavi running 2km every day to raise money for Manchester Children’s hospital where his friend Hughie Higginson is being treated for Leukemia. And so many, many more small acts which make us better.

The simple messages of wearing a mask, keeping our distance and washing our hands is now wearing but it’s still common sense.

As we look to the New Year with the hope that there’ll be a time not too far off when life moves towards something more normal, let’s look after each other. We will get through this together. So on a gloomy December day I’ll still wish you all a Peaceful Christmas and a better New Year.

This article was originally published in the Rochdale Observer on 26th December 2020.