Last Christmas, as everyone sat down as usual for the traditional turkey lunch, who could have imagined what was coming? I am convinced that 2020 will go down in history as the year we took leave of our senses and allowed mass panic, on a global scale, to devastate billions of lives and livelihoods.
In the face of a new virus moving swiftly through the population, what did we do? We locked up the young and healthy, in a vain attempt to control the uncontrollable, while failing to protect the most vulnerable: the elderly.
As the year went on, we blocked our ears and closed our eyes to mounting scientific evidence and real-world data which repeatedly showed that lockdowns did not significantly reduce mortality, but did cause massive collateral damage.
We abandoned democracy, not with a struggle but with a roar of approval, and we accepted authoritarian, secretive and unaccountable government by decree.
We allowed ourselves to be alternately cajoled, bullied and jollied along, just like children, in the hope that some day, if we're very good and take our medicine like the doctor says, we'll be let out to play again.
Right from the beginning, the community was deliberately infected with fear to ensure maximum public compliance. Remember the Sage paper, back in March saying that "the perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased"?
That succeeded so well that many people still can't think straight, living in abject terror of a virus which, while dangerous to the old and frail, who should be offered maximum protection and targeted support, presents little or no serious risk to most of us.
Meanwhile, the rest of us say nothing, because anyone who dares to question the officially prescribed narrative is lambasted, shunned or dismissed as some kind of whacked-out conspiracy theorist or Covid denier.
Cruel, life-limiting poverty has been unleashed by the extreme virus mitigation measures, but it's almost totally hidden from sight.
Lives of quiet desperation are happening behind closed doors. We should be hearing from these stricken people, but many journalists are too busy with their current day jobs: helping the Government to ratchet up the fear.
When we finally remove our single-vision Covid glasses, which blot out all other concerns, we will be met with scenes of unbearable suffering.
It's already happening. Millions of people in the UK are going hungry because lockdown measures have pushed them into poverty.
This year, there has been an 80% surge in demand for food banks in Northern Ireland alone. Volunteers report that hungry families have been asking for food they can eat without heating, because they can't even afford to turn on the cooker.
The voiceless poor are paying the price for lockdown. They are paying for the middle classes to work from home, cosy in their cashmere loungewear, perhaps ordering in a sushi box on Deliveroo, before taking to Twitter to shame the 'Covidiot' masses for queuing up to shop at Primark in case they generate a surge in infections which could jeopardise their personal Christmas plans.
And it's children, especially the impoverished and vulnerable ones, who are paying the biggest price of all. Their futures have been sacrificed in order to assuage our own desperate panic. Their education has been drastically disrupted. Their mental health has been badly affected. A marked increase in child head injuries, caused by being locked up with their abusers, was observed during the pandemic, reflecting a wider rise in domestic abuse. Too many kids are going hungry.
The most tragic irony - the thing that makes this picture even more heartbreaking - is that children themselves are not at risk from the virus, yet we have exacted this awful cost from them.
"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." These are the words of the Scottish author Charles Mackay, taken from a book he published in 1841 called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. It remains an astute observation.
It is the herd mentality, not Covid, which has brought us to the place we are today, unsure if we will even be allowed to celebrate Christmas.
We have already been put on warning that more restrictions will be imposed in the new year.
And we know what that means: more jobs lost, more livelihoods ruined, more children going hungry.
Mackay didn't say how long it took for people to recover their senses, but if we don't do it soon, and start paying attention to the facts, not the fear, it's hard to see how this year of madness and misery will ever end.