In a normal year - remember those? - the squabbling over whether it's too soon to think about Christmas would be well underway. We haven't even got Halloween done and dusted yet and the shops are stocking tinsel, would come the sighs.

This year it's World Health Organisation anonymous officials briefing newspapers that it's far too soon to think about Christmas. The implications of a pandemic on Christmas festivities certainly give some perspective to the long running argument over how early is too early to put the tree up.

It may be too early to know definitively what the situation will look like at Christmas, but it's certainly understandable that people want to know as soon as possible.

It's also just as understandable that those in authority with influence on the decision would want to keep expectations realistic.

It entirely makes sense that Jason Leitch would warn the public to prepare for a "digital Christmas" - it seems highly unlikely that the virus will be subdued enough in two months' time for large family gatherings to go ahead.

You can also imagine the collective grimace from the Scottish Government's communications team as the National Clinical Director's headline-grabbing turn of phrase found its way back to them.

There was likely a set plan around sharing festive restrictions and an off-the-cuff comment during a radio discussion was likely not part of it.

That's the devil's pact with having someone like Professor Leitch on your team. The man is an excellent communicator and can make complex information understandable for a wide variety of audiences... but he also doesn't hold back in saying it as it is.

The First Minister's exasperation during the coronavirus briefing - when multiple questions were about the prospect of a digital Christmas - was clear.

Partisan rammies and unedifying squabbles over how to keep people safe have become the norm. Professor Neil Ferguson, the scientist whose modelling led to the initial UK lockdown, said the rules governing Christmas socialising will be a "political judgment about costs versus benefits."

"Some people will die because of getting infected on that day," he said, "But if it’s only one or two days the impact is likely to be limited."

That couldn't merely be reported straight - there had to be some political feedback to it. This came from Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, who said "You wouldn’t expect much Christmas cheer from Professor Neil Ferguson," and recommended waiting to see "where we are" come December.

An interesting response, given that Prof Ferguson's comments did seem relatively optimistic in allowing some wriggle room for relaxing the rules to allow festive gatherings.

And so the squabble over Prof Leitch's comments began. There followed the predictable riposte from Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, tweeting that Prof Leitch's comments were "tone deaf".

"Thousands of Scots struggling & face a miserable Dickensian Christmas after months of lockdown," he tweeted, "Not everyone has unlimited digital access."

It's extraordinary, the suggestion that anyone, at any level of Scottish society, might not have noticed that thousands are struggling and thousands face a difficult Christmas. It seems fairly obvious that Christmas, like so much of life, will have to be carried out in a very different way from usual and that will include moving celebrations online.

Not everyone has unlimited digital access - some have no digital access at all - but it's surely better to not to raise hopes for a semi-normal Christmas when those might then be dashed nearer the time.

Jason Leitch has come away with some absolute clangers during his tenure as clinical director but it's a stretch to add "digital Christmas" to the list.

Worse, though, than partisan squabbling, was the response from Bishop John Keenan, vice-president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, asking Nicola Sturgeon to consider a festive ceasefire, lifting coronavirus restrictions to allow families to enjoy Christmas Day. Unlike Professor Ferguson, the Bishop was not reflecting on the science of the situation but rather looking at the emotional toll of a restricted Christmas, which is, of course, laudable and a vital issue.

Using the phrase "circuit-breaker" in the opposite sense to how it has been used so far, Bishop Keenan likened a 24 hour restriction-free period to the famous 1914 Christmas Day ceasefire. A 24 hour break in restrictions would have the opposite effect - it would risk lives.

Some might make the argument that the Catholic Church - and, indeed, all other religious bodies - should stay silent in a public health debate but that shouldn't be the case. For so many, church is a source of guidance, comfort and, as being evidenced more clearly than ever during this crisis, practical support. It makes absolute sense for religious leaders to be involved, but in a constructive way.

The Archbishop's intervention was, with respect, unhelpful.

Christmas, it goes without saying, is a crucial event and the backdrop against which it is celebrated, as well as how it is celebrated, will be incredibly important for the mental and emotional wellbeing of so many.

Poorly thought through discussion on the topic for the next eight weeks will do nothing but harm to the national psyche. If I might get my Christmas list in early, it's for fact, tact and less party politics from all, please.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.