Sitting not far from me at midnight mass recently was Humza Yousaf.
A few pews away was local politician Michael Marra, Labour MSP for North East Scotland.
Of the two, the Labour man is more likely to be celebrating this year when most wise men and women are predicting a huge general election win for his party.
Yousaf has inherited the SNP leadership at a grim time and there appears to be no sign of a star in the night sky signalling a path to any rebirth of their previous good fortunes.
Any party in power for 16 years falters in energy and ideas, and a malaise sets in which can be impossible to shake.
For those still yearning for independence, the SNP remains far and away the best route to achieving their aims, yet their once brightly shining star is on the wane and fading fast.
Whether their diminishing light becomes a distant speck in the political firmament or whether new life can be breathed into it remains to be seen, but the portents aren’t promising.
Problems coming thick and fast
The party have shambled into the New Year amid a host of problems and infighting.
The latest thorn in the side is the furore over Humza Yousaf’s request to Stagecoach co-founder Brian Souter to help organise a dinner with business leaders.
Patrick Harvie, co-leader of coalition partners the Greens, says the Scottish Government must be clear it “does not share the values” of Souter, adding to recent tensions within the partnership.
With the SNP financially impoverished, Perth tycoon Souter has undoubtedly been courted in the hope that he might come into the fold bearing gifts.
But even if he does make a donation to the cause, it won’t stem the flow of bad blood internally or the sense of betrayal among many supporters.
When Yousaf was handed the leadership crown, he surely never expected it to be so full of thorns, but his problems are coming thick and fast and without mercy.
MP Tommy Sheppard added to the leader’s woes recently, declaring the debate on independence stops if the party lose the next election.
That echoed Pete Wishart MP’s claim last May that independence was off the agenda in the event of election defeat.
Many supporters feel they’re being strong armed into settling for permanent devolution instead of revolution, and I think they’re probably right.
Mhairi Black, SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, has upset her Westminster colleague Joanna Cherry by claiming too many SNP MPs are too comfortable in London.
Cherry has demanded an apology from her fellow MP, who nationalists once hoped would be a scourge of the Westminster establishment, but who has decided instead to stand down at the next election.
Party stance on XL Bully dogs ‘barking’
Elsewhere, the party stance on XL Bully dogs appears to be barking; on the one hand they don’t want to ban them in Scotland while telling owners south of the border not to bring their dogs up here despite there being no current law against it.
And Humza Yousaf has been accused of fantasy economics after saying Scots would all be £10,200 a year better off with independence.
Rumbling in the background, as arguments and distractions pile up daily, there’s Michael Matheson’s bill for £11,000 for data roaming charges on his government iPad while abroad.
And there’s also the small matter of Operation Branchform, the ongoing investigation into SNP finances and funding, launched in July 2021 amid claims that £660,000 raised to fight a second independence referendum was spent elsewhere.
As he celebrated Christmas mass, Humza Yousaf must’ve hoped the New Year would bring good cheer.
I fear he’ll be disappointed.