I'M aware that, in the grand ghastly scheme of things these days, not receiving Christmas cards from family and friends to most people is of no great importance and nothing really to get upset about, but as I have been a widow for more than 10 years and live alone. these little things just make a bad situation seem worse still.

Four of my long-term friends from North and South Lanarkshire posted Christmas cards to me around two weeks ago. My sister and niece in Canada mailed theirs at the beginning of December and my son, who lives in Baden Wurtemberg in Germany, posted his on December 8. I have, as yet, received none of them. My son also ordered, on the same date, a present online to be delivered to me and was told it was guaranteed to be received before the 24th. The company has now told him it cannot honour its original guarantee.

I haven't been able to meet my old friends for months now as we are sticking to the rules and I'm missing contact with them of any kind other than a WhatsApp group but, and I can't explain why, receiving a written note from them seems more personal. Maybe I'm just old fashioned. My son and his girlfriend are of course also unable to come home for Christmas as they had planned. I do feel very grateful and lucky for the friends I have made here since moving more than two years ago and to my daughter, her husband and my granddaughter who now live nearby.

We have an excellent regular postman in our street who knows nearly everyone so I'm certain the fault is not his. but as the costs of postage rise but the service worsens you have to wonder who is responsible?

I'd be interested to hear of any other of your readers had experienced similar problems.

Happy Christmas to all anyway.

Margaret Thomson, Bo'ness.


NO doubt along with several hundred thousand other Scots on Monday (December 21), I received a “Season’s Greetings” card from the Scottish Government. Unfortunately, as the rules it gives for meetings from December 23-27 were cancelled last Saturday, it was out-of-date on receipt, though still in part valid.

But worse, it inevitably includes a signed missive from the First Minister, thanking me for “all that you have done over the past 9 months to keep yourself and others safe” and saying “I am hugely appreciative of all your sacrifices” – on both of which she writes from a position of total ignorance.

Finally, typically putting herself in the forefront, she writes: “I and the Scottish Government Shielding team wish you…..”. Was she not taught at school that courtesy requires us to place the other party first in such sentences?

John Birkett, St Andrews.


EVERY day we hear of the gross inequalities which blight our humanity and which ought to challenge us to question our attitudes towards our fellow human beings. In this context may I suggest that Christmas is the time to ask ourselves what is the real significance of the man born two millennia ago in Palestine?

Jesus reveals to us that what makes us truly human is a radical love for all others without exception. He was empowered by his closeness to his God, a God who is Love, a Love which is so radical, so all-encompassing that it must influence every aspect of the lives of those who take Jesus and his God seriously: personal, communal and political, politics being the only way to remove the structural injustices which are at the root of the aforementioned inequalities.

My conclusion? It is time to eliminate both consumerism and sentimentality from Christmas and replace them with a compassion for and solidarity with those who are oppressed and voiceless, who experience poverty, hunger, violence, rejection and abuse because they are different.

John Milne, Uddingston.


IS Rosemary Goring ("Spending Christmas away from Florence is like waking up to no gifts under the tree", The Herald, December 23) living on a different planet to the rest of us? At a time when the nation is facing the probability of another lockdown which will plunge retail, tourism, hospitality, the arts, and countless individuals into financial meltdown, she shares her desolation about being unable to spend Christmas in Florence.

The day after reports reveal alarming statistics concerning the rise in homelessness due to Covid-19, Ms Goring is devastated at not being able to go to Edinburgh to see the festive lights. While the Salvation Army and a legion of volunteers take food to thousands of lorry drivers trapped in Dover, she regales us with tales of "wolfing down cannoli, panettone and chou pastries" and having the perfect Christmas Eve dinner blighted by American students.

Am I missing something? Is this satire? Enough of this self-indulgent whining from a journalist who equates misery with the cancellation of a holiday. Go and spend Christmas Day in a homeless shelter, Ms Goring, or a food bank, and experience the real world. Then write about that.

Grace Barnes, Lerwick.


I AM obliged to Alan Susskind (Letters, December 22) for advising that Brussels sprouts are great for the libido, and would be grateful for further advice regarding the dosage and how often.

I admit to previous disappointment with similar claims for oysters when once I splashed out on six and found that two of them didn’t work.

R Russell Smith, Largs.