The traditional image of the festive period is uplifting and optimistic, with portrayals of cosy and cheerful homes, surrounded by pristine snow, in which a happy family gathers to share a dinner cooked to perfection with gifts to share and receive.

Yet for most this ideal is unattainable given the complexity of modern life. This time of year can be stressful, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the pressures that come with the festive season.

Whether through work, lack of work, estrangement or loss of friends or family members, or financial worries brought on by finding the right gifts for your loved ones, we can all feel exhausted by the time the big day comes around.

This is particularly true for all those who don’t have the luxury of time off work.

I thank those who keep our emergency services operating during this busy time, as well as care and hospital staff who look after family members and friends unable to return home at this time of year. From all walks of life, many people work hard to keep us safe and well.

We must keep things in perspective. It doesn’t matter if the turkey was late or you didn't find the perfect present, as long as you are surrounded by the ones you love, a privilege that is sadly impossible for some.

It would be nice to think that everything can run perfectly at this time of year, but that isn't always the case. It doesn’t make this time of year any less special and I hope that we are all able to find joy in the little things this festive season.

I hope your Christmas is peaceful, happy and I wish you all the best for 2024.