It’s been a tough year! Many people have faced loss of some kind, and almost everyone has felt lonely and isolated at times.

For a lot of people in our communities, Christmas will be especially difficult.

Around our communities we are seeing lovely examples of kindness. There are toy appeals and foodbanks getting ready to distribute a bit of Christmas cheer. The community development team at Strathcarron Hospice are privileged to be working with some primary school classes to help them to make connections with people in their local area who would like to receive a thoughtful gift and message. We hope some lasting friendships might come from this.

But bringing Christmas cheer does not have to be an organised thing. Each one of us can do something, and it doesn’t need to cost anything. The most important thing we can do to help both ourselves and others if to make a human connection. Kindness and compassion is free and natural.

We can’t visit each other’s houses right now, but there are many ways in which we can still connect.

A Christmas card with a wee note put through the door of a neighbour could really brighten someone’s day. If you have children in the family they could make the card, or make a drawing to include with your message. If you are worried about accidentally passing on the virus, you can reduce this risk by carefully washing and sanitising your hands before and after preparing and delivering the cards.

You could include a teabag in your card with an offer to share a cuppa and a telephone chat at a certain time.

You could encourage your neighbours to come out on their doorstep at 6pm on Christmas Eve to join in the Christmas Jingle. You don’t need to have jingle bells, a pot lid and a wooden spoon will do fine.

A telephone call on Christmas morning could have a big impact on someone’s mental wellbeing, and it would also have an impact on yours.

Have a think about it. What can you do in your own street or neighbourhood? Let’s all do a little something to save the spirit of Christmas.