Mask mandates and rising COVID case numbers were not on anyone's end-of-year wish lists, but as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, it's important to remember we have plenty to remain thankful for.
A combination of the state government's proactive public health response and our geographical isolation have helped ensure Tasmanians have been able to enjoy a level of safety and relative freedom throughout 2021 that large parts of the nation - and indeed the world - have only dreamed of.
With borders having reopened on December 15, many Tasmanians will be reuniting with family members they have not seen in many months - or in some instances, years - for Christmas celebrations.
Since the border reopened, there has been understandable concern about the spread of COVID. But we should also be thankful that - unlike some jurisdictions that decided the concept of personal responsibility has been sufficient when it comes to wearing face masks - our state government has been quick to introduce mask mandates for indoor settings to minimise the spread.
Of course, the tragic events that occurred at Hillcrest Primary School last week mean Christmas will not be never be the same for many families in the state's North-West.
The two boys recuperating in hospital undoubtedly have a long road to recovery ahead of them, but yesterday's news that both children have been moved out of intensive care offers some much-needed good news and hope. We should also be thankful that Tasmanians truly shine in times of crisis, as has been evidenced by the way the community has rallied around those affected in Devonport, and the generosity of those who have donated to fundraising campaigns for the families affected.
If you are fortunate enough to be celebrating Christmas with family and friends, be mindful of the fact it can also be a lonely and isolating time of year. The pandemic has exacerbated those feelings of isolation, so if you know someone experiencing loneliness, reach out and offer an ear to lend, or set an extra place at your table for Christmas lunch.
And please spare a thought for police, who will be busy monitoring roads and keeping the community safe, and health workers, whose already challenging jobs are being made even more so by the pandemic.
Everyone at The Examiner is grateful to have the support of our loyal readers. It's an honour to be trusted to deliver important news to our community, especially during crises, and it's a responsibility we don't take lightly. Have a safe and merry Christmas.
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