As Borders MP Calum Kerr highlights in a refreshingly non-party political way on the page opposite, Christmas can be a far from merry time for many – particularly among the elderly.
For some, the approach of the festive season is a prospect to regard with forboding rather than joy, especially those who live on their own. It can revive the pain of losing a lifelong partner, or reinforce a sense of isolation caused by younger family members either moving away or leading increasingly-busy lives.
This time of year may also spark an older person’s comparisons with happier Yuletides of long ago, merely serving to emphasise their current sad state of affairs.
Loneliness can cause harm both mentally and physically – as Calum Kerr points out, twice as bad as obesity and as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
So why not set aside some time for your elderly neighbours, friends or relatives during this season of goodwill – it could be one of the best presents they’ve ever had.
And it could add an extra bit of festive cheer for yourself too.