The festive period is traditionally a time for families and friends to come together.
But imagine you are a seafarer on a far-travelled vessel, who finds yourself in the north-east of Scotland, thousands of miles from home.
That realisation prompted Howard Drysdale, the chaplain of Aberdeen Harbour, to start organising the distribution of little gifts for those who might otherwise be left to their own devices.
And last week, Mr Drysdale and his colleagues demonstrated how far the initiative has advanced over the last 17 years when they provided presents and company to foreign nationals from all different parts of the globe.
He told the Leopard: “What started with 400 parcels wrapped at home by my family has grown to 3,000 parcels distributed every year.
“I am really thankful to the team of volunteers who begin wrapping the presents in September and everybody who helps hands these out in December.
“It is great fun and being able to see the smiles on the seafarers’ faces makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
At the outset, the scheme provided a light in the darkness for a few lonely people. But now, that flame has shared the cheer with thousands of mariners and those who spend their lives on the waves.
Mr Drysdale added, as of yesterday: “We have given out 2,876 presents in December. While the nationalities may vary, this includes seafarers from many different places.
“On one of the vessels with 18 crew, there were seven different nationalities on board.”
It is not unknown for children to emerge from a pantomime with the feeling they have been more terrified than entertained.
Played to full effect, Wicked Queens, King Rats, and awful Abanazars can reduce the more innocent to tears for all the wrong reasons.
It was no huge surprise, therefore, to see some youngsters emerging from the Tivoli in Aberdeen last Saturday with the fear of God in their wide eyes.
Word reaches the Leopard that the shock lay more in the identity of the villain who spooked them: none other than wide-eyed, never-growing-up Peter Pan.
The blame lay in a rare slip in an otherwise terrifically entertaining and professional performance by the stars and chorus alike.
Each and every time someone says they do not believe in fairies, our flying hero proclaimed solemnly, “a child dies”.
It was hard to tell who looked more shocked – the younger members of the audience or the actor concerned, whose attempts to backtrack were largely drowned out by the collective gasp from the auditorium.
Perhaps in a few decades’ time, this column may help a researcher trying to uncover the cause of a spike in reports of fairies being seen in the north-east from 2019 onwards.
It can be hard getting your product noticed at the best of times. Marketing assaults our eyes and ears via every possible medium as a whole world of goods is thrust before us.
So you really have to feel for one well-known brand which PR gurus sought to bring to the attention of the P&J’s Menu team last week.
When it comes to emails, its marketing executives really are up against it more than most as they battle to be heard amid the cacophony.
The more prominently they plug their name, the more likely the message is to be unceremoniously deleted without being read.
The food item in question? SPAM.
Next week will see the launch of the United Nations Year of Indigenous Languages.
And aficionados of Doric are determined not to miss this opportunity to spread the gospel.
A film competition is being organised for people of all ages and backgrounds, from young amateurs to seasoned professionals, with a special screening of the winning entries being held in the summer.
And Aberdeen University is also holding two regular classes – beginner and advanced – to satisfy demand.
The beginners course will be aimed at newcomers to the north-east, who want to learn more about the language and use it with confidence.
It will be led by Jackie Ross, a renowned Doric storyteller and member of the Grampian Association of Storytellers or GAS, as the acronym has it.
The advanced class will focus on conversational practice and help people develop the skills to make a work presentation in Scots, write a letter, or even translate a beloved piece of literature.
Scots writer and journalist Alistair Heather, public engagement officer at the university’s Elphinstone Institute, will lead that class.
Dr Tom McKean, director of the Elphinstone Institute, which is the university’s centre for the study of north-east traditions and folklore, said he was excited by the renewed interest in the language.
He added: “These classes are open to everyone and are a great way for people to build their confidence, whether they’re beginners or native speakers.”
Scots is a language spoken by more than 1.5 million people, according to the 2011 census, with around half of the population in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire having some Scots language skills.