Tomorrow, the world over, hundreds of millions will pause to celebrate Christmas Day, an international holiday. Many of them will even take a moment to remember the birth of Christ and its significance to Christians everywhere.
However, with commerce today playing a much bigger role in Christmas than religion, it is very likely that for many millions the focus will be on what’s lacking as opposed to the blessings that are all around us.
Add man’s growing disregard for his fellowman to the mix and we have a world of brutality.
Certainly there has been no let up to the fighting in Syria; Iran continues to enrich its atomic capacity; the roadside bombs still explode in Afghanistan and Iraq; and there appears to be no end in sight to the protests against austerity measures across Europe.
In the United States, we venture to suggest that this Christmas there will not be a single person with a heart who will not feel at least a tinge of sadness as a result of the recent mass killings.
Closer to home, in our region, we dare to say the Christmas break will not end without its regular share of murder and mayhem in Jamaica, Trinidad and The Bahamas in particular, while in Barbados some person (or persons) will do all they can to add some misery to the work of the trauma specialists at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
In the face of all this, as we look around the country we see that the Christmas lights that once proliferated in many districts and homes are conspicuously absent this year, no doubt a vivid reminder of the tough year that is about to end and the predictions of the just as tough, or perhaps tougher, year that is about to begin. Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s have now become household names — symbols of everything for which we do not wish.
We suspect that in most homes across our lands, while many of our citizens have learnt to make do with much less, in many cases much less, many a conversation over Christmas lunch will centre on the “hard times” we have survived so far.
We wish to suggest though, that while it will not be easy to dismiss the obvious challenges we face as individuals, families and a country, it would do us all well to focus on the hope that is embodied in the celebration of the birth of our Lord. When we are able to direct our thoughts to matters that are less centred on self and more on service to mankind, we can discover that we have strength and resilence beyond anything we would have imagined. Often when we direct our energies toward the assistance of others we can very quickly come to realise that what we saw as our own life-altering experience was nothing more than a gentle stumble when compared with what others have endured.
So what if there is no turkey to adorn your table beside the ham as in previous years; not too far away is a family making do with just a chicken. And if you are mindful to complain about the fellow who is taking his family to Miami for Christmas while yours is surviving on two cans of tuna and some macaroni, just remember that not too far away there are dozens who can’t buy tuna — they will be visiting the Salvation Army feeding centre, or waiting for a meals-on-wheels delivery.
Like you, we wish that every Barbadian could lay the finest fare on his table this Christmas, while the children giggle with delight at the wonderful gifts that were under the tree; but that will not be the case for many. So let us count our blessings this Christmas, consider the reason for the season, offer a morsel of your little to someone who has less, and muster from deep within you the hope and strength that is so much a part of our heritage.
Put Jesus in your Christmas this year.