Nphet once again donned their Scrooge ensemble as another Christmas was stolen

We must tune out the gloom and dial up festive spirit

Don’t let the health Scrooge’s steal our festive spirit

Roy Curtis

The timeless perfume of pine needles colonises the room's every corner, evoking a picture album of festive memories.

Hundreds of white lights shimmer out of the half dark, a flaring of hope, continuity in a time of pause.

A Christmas tree's power to enrich any space - to literally spruce it up - remains one of life's undiluted joys.

It bring a glow not just to the surrounds but to the essence; to the hearth and the heart.

December rituals summon the inner- child, propel so many of us back into that enchanted safe space of make- believe.

Dressing a tree in bauble and glitter, ribboning it with crimson and gold, costuming it with bulbs that spangle, and twinkle and glint is at once a ceremony, a tonic, and a retreat into nostalgia.

It is a journey down a time tunnel, a postcard from yesteryear, a safehouse from the doomsday drumbeat.

On Friday, as Nphet again donned their Scrooge ensemble, as another Christmas was stolen to cover-up chronic health service inadequacies, we opted to tune out.

To press the mute button, lower the antennae and turn our backs on the news bulletins and their frenzied force feeding of apocalypse.

For the remainder of 2021, we'll feast instead on a diet of Christmas FM, mince pies and - for so long as the prohibitionists allow - a few pints with friends.

Having never heard of an ostrich with hypertension, perhaps we might all be better served sticking our head in the sand for a little while.

The endless reel of doomsday headlines - the Hysteria variant - are themselves a dangerous, high blood pressure inducing virus.

Poisoning conversation, mutating into angry strains of claim and counter-claim, creating a fever of confusion.

So many influential media figures, high on mulled sanctimony, appear to be on an obsessive lockdown crusade.

People are being needlessly terrified by mixed-messaging, psychologically scarred by irresponsible assertions.

A taxi-driver friend tells a story of a recent fare, his passenger double masked, wearing latex gloves (to which he applied hand wash on getting into the car) and opening both back windows fully to the frigid November air.

Then came the moment my pal realised all reason had been lost.

For the duration of the journey, his passenger - much like a pet dog in the back seat en route to the park - craned his neck and stuck his head out the window.

He was more likely to die from hypothermia or a pulverising blow from a lamppost than he was of contracting Covid-19.

But this is where we are at: A frightening number of people have been brainwashed into believing they are in mortal danger every minute of every day.

Covid is deeply unpleasant but the terror that is a by-product is also dangerous and draining.

It is a product of the absence of rational leadership, of competing egos, of Official Ireland's refusal to accept we must live with the grim reality of an endemic disease rather than cower every time there is a new development.

The toll being exacted on mental health is ferocious. It is easy to fixate on every fresh story, to forget, in the debilitating climate, that there is a booster shot of positivity available to us all.

It is free, a ready-made seasonal antidote to the suffocating, depressing here-we-go-again return to restrictions.

Rather than obsessing about case numbers today, take a walk as daylight surrenders to dusk.

Allow the cheer of house after house, shopfront after shopfront, streetscape after streetscape illuminated by Yuletide lustre to go to work on your anxiety.

Light has an extraordinary effect on the psyche.

A neighbourhood sparkling like so many glow-worms is a kind of visual music, a therapeutic chorus that travels from the eyes to the mind to the marrow.

It refreshes like a balm, massages the senses, invigorating, renewing, uplifting.

I'm writing these words in the half-light of early Saturday morning.

A halo of Christmas tree light crowns the room; the pine needles exhale their rejuvenating fragrance.

It is timeless, evocative, magical.

A festive safe space, a sparkling fortification locking out the gloom.

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