It’s been a bit harder than usual to find much Christmas cheer this year.
It could be the timing: Christmas will land on a Tuesday, which doesn’t seem very festive at all – particularly for those who have to work today and don’t get the luxury of a nice, long weekend.
And then, more pertinently, 2018 has been a grind. An ill-tempered, fractious 12 months that seems to have consisted of nothing but unremitting bleakness.
The UK still has not escaped the straight-jacket of austerity so many of us are finding life tougher than ever.
The concerns of ordinary people across the UK has never seemed more distant from the preoccupations of our political leaders, jostling and conniving to see who can make the most capital from walking us off the cliff-edge that is Brexit,
Anyone looking for insight into the state of British, and Scottish society, by looking online will be even more disheartened: it’s a world of entrenched opinion and aggression, where any sort of reprehensible behaviour is condoned or defended so long as it comes from “the right side”.
Meanwhile, you seemingly can’t walk more than 20 yards in Dundee – or any sizeable town or city for that matter – without stumbling across another beggar or rough sleeper.
But while the world does seem crueller than before, it doesn’t mean people are.
This year – and my evidence for this is, I admit, entirely anecdotal – there are far more people extending a hand to help those less fortunate this year: from takeaways offering free food to larger, community run events offering Christmas meals to the lonely or the homeless.
Meanwhile, there are smaller, more personal acts that go almost entirely unnoticed.
Anyone who used the underpass to King Street will know it is a popular spot for beggars offering, as it does, the small comfort of shelter and light.
On Saturday afternoon, as I walked through I saw a family heading into town laden with what appeared to be bags of Christmas shopping.
A girl, no more than eight or nine-years-old, was gently nudged towards a beggar sitting in the underpass.
Shyly, she handed him a Christmas gift bag containing what appeared to be a blue blanket and other items.
And then, after a brief and surprised “thank you” the family walked on.
It was a moment of kindness and generosity. A lesson for us all that showed the true Christmas spirit is still alive, if we remember to look for it.