Scottish politicians have paid tribute to workers in the emergency services as they recognised the festive season of 2020 as “a Christmas like no other”.
In their annual holiday message, leaders from the five political parties noted that this year’s celebration would be hard for many people.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I want to wish all of you, a very happy Christmas.
“In doing so I know that for many people – for example our emergency services and armed forces – Christmas is not a holiday at all.
“And for many health and care workers, it will be another working day at the end of an exhausting year.
“I want to say thank you to each and every one of you. The entire country is so grateful for the dedication, expertise, and compassion you have shown us this year.
“I also want to acknowledge that for all of us, this will be a Christmas like no other.
“As has been the case for so much of this year – the way in which we will show our love for each other, is by keeping apart, keeping our distance from each other.
“That will be really hard for all of us but it will be especially hard for children – for whom Christmas is such a special and exciting time.
“And so if any children are watching this, please know firstly that we have made special arrangements to make sure that Santa will still come to visit.
“And please also know that if you are missing people this Christmas, people you would normally see – maybe your granny and grandad, your uncles and your aunts, or other members of your family – they will be sending extra love to you.
“And please know – above all – that future Christmases will not be like this.
“Hopefully this time next year we’ll all be looking forward to a much more normal celebration.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “Scotland has not had a Christmas set against the backdrop of such tragic human loss, suffering and sacrifice since the Second World War.
“My deepest condolences go out to all of those who have lost a loved one, a family member or friend, during this most difficult year.
“And we say thank you to all those key workers in our National Health Service and care services, the shop workers, people in transport, and so many more who have kept the country going in these most difficult times.”
Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Greens co-leader, said: “2020 has been such a traumatic year. We have been through so much together and we still have more to go before we see the end of the Coronavirus pandemic, but this is a moment to take stock and recognise that we worked together to protect each other to keep the country safe.
“And now there is light at the end of the tunnel in these dark times, with a vaccine now beginning to be administered.
“It’s time to spread the love with your friends and family, even if we have to do it over a screen or in a socially distant way this year.
“Stay safe, stay well and let’s work together for a much brighter and better 2021.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross: “I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas.
“This has been and continues to be a year like no other.
“And although Christmas 2020 will be very different to normal and the restrictions we will see across the country from Boxing Day will be difficult, the day itself will feel comfortingly familiar.
“There will be the twinkling lights and decorations; the trees and presents; the overindulgence and festive TV.
“My wife Krystle and I can’t wait to see our son Alistair excitedly tearing open his presents left under the tree by Santa.
“Although at just 21 months old, he is sometimes more interested in the shiny paper and the cardboard boxes than the gifts inside.
“As a family, next year will be even more special, with another stocking hanging up for Alistair’s new brother or sister who is due in June.
“Christmas is usually a time to catch up with loved ones; to celebrate the bonds of family, friends and community.
“And even though much of Christmas will feel normal, one aspect will be strikingly different.
“While we have struggled with curtailed social interactions this year, they will be even more keenly felt at this time.
“None of us wanted this. But as painful as it may be, forsaking Christmas Day hugs and big family meals this year are for the greater good.
“Rest assured, this will soon be over. And in future Christmases we will be able to look back and be proud of the part we played in the fight against Coronavirus.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “I’d like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas after a very tough year.
“Many of us are not with our loved ones this year. We’re separated for the sake of safety, embracing new technologies as a way to be together and celebrating in different ways to usual.
“For many it’s not the Christmas they had hoped for, but the end of this crisis is in sight and we must all do what we can to get us there safely.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank the key workers in our hospitals, care homes, GP surgeries, transport, schools and supermarkets, many of whom will be working today, as they have done all year, to keep this country going. We owe you a tremendous amount and we are extremely grateful.