As Provost I have the good fortune to attend many family celebrations every month of the year.
Occasions such as 100th birthdays and wedding anniversaries, and I am always struck by how much joy it brings people to share their big day with family and friends.
That does lead me to reflect on those in society who do not have their loved ones close to them, those who are isolated and alone or who, perhaps for financial reasons, do not feel able to bring people together.
At this time of the year I think many of us do think more about those less fortunate and will make an extra effort to give to charity, put something into the food bank or support a local toy collection.
That generosity is welcome, much needed and should continue, but perhaps as a community we need to also turn our thoughts to how we can offer friendship and inclusion at this time of year to those who are shut out of the festivities.
There are those who give up their own celebrations to help organise and support events, parties and meals for others and their work is invaluable. They really do make a difference.
We all have our own commitments and responsibilities and not everyone can give freely of their own time to help others but what we can all do is spare a kind word, stop for a chat or check-in on an elderly or vulnerable neighbour, a simple gesture to show that someone does care can go a long way.
Finally I would like to thank all the people I have met over the past year who make South Lanarkshire a better place to live.
I’d like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.