Christmas is the season of bounteous emotional means and of myriad emotive responses. Mostly they are reflective (wholesome happiness tinged with melancholy as at the memory of a departed and deeply missed loved one), endearing (as at the homecoming of family and friends from the Diaspora), altruistic (as in lending a kind and charitable hand), forgiving (as letting bygones be bygones, and burying the rusty old hatchet).
Christmas is a time –– for all the feasting and drinking socially and communally –– when we yearn for that “peace on earth and goodwill towards men”, and would embrace reconciliation to experience it. Christmas is the time when we rekindle those barely smouldering embers of friendship and kinship, giving them fresh and revised meaning, bringing deeper warmth and luminescent joy to our lives – whether we live them in the villages, terraces, heights, on the beaches or elsewhere.
The haughtiest and most arrogant of us at Christmas will spare a moment in thought for the much less fortunate, furthermore those of us who will gather in fellowship, ever mindful of our fellow men and fellow women who find themselves in distress and dire straits, alone, or separated from their loved ones.
And we thank all the corporate entities which through such grass-roots facilitators as the Salvation Army, and/or on their own, have brought cheer to the disadvantaged and poor during this season, traditionally marked by good tidings and a rush of joy –– where we would allow it. We thank all the social groups and individuals who have voluntarily delighted our children, have given a boost to the disabled and have drawn smiles of appreciation from our aged.
For all this love and considerateness we thank the business owners, service clubs and associations, other charitable organizations, the police, politicians, entertainers, and all those others who have demonstrated admirable caring for the impoverished of our communities throughout the holiday season. And we would wish that for the most part it could be carried through into the New Year and indeed for the rest of it.
As we warm with our visiting families and relatives, let us too show our gratefulness for those remittances from the hands of the Bajan Diaspora. Great is their kindness and thoughtfulness.
Still, Christmas reminds us that true generosity endures, reaching beyond kith and kin, and our very own communities, extending to the strangers at our gates and to those who would remain outsiders, had it not been for the love taught by the man Jesus, whose birth we rejoice in at this time.
Christmas too is a time to reflect on what joins us at the hips, as members of the same family, as neighbours, as fellow citizens, as political leaders and representatives, and as human beings, as we all ultimately are. The message of Christmas, as told in the Jesus story, calls on us to care for one another and to be –– in a commonsensical way as much as ethical –– our brother’s keeper.
The spirit of Christmas could issue from that spring of goodwill as our political leaders and voices grapple with our national economic challenges. If the love, charity and generosity of Christmas really mean anything to us as a nation, these profound qualities can draw together our Social Partners and that breed of politician who can set aside the temptations of partisan carping and one-upmanship and possibly save our country from the fate of some of our Caribbean neighbours.
Perhaps, the celebration and spirit of Christmas this year will make a profound contribution towards moving beyond the virtual collapsed state of the economy and our society that has for company anxiety, would-be hopelessness, straitening hardship, and obligatory high sacrifice, and through a regime of consensual consultation crafting a vision defined by trust, core values of caring and solidarity, to a plain of recovery.
And as 2014 beckons, having encapsulated the spirit and love of Christmas, we might not find the New Year so threatening after all, for having, as one, fashioned the path forward, we can march with some certainty, confident in the boasted resilience of us as a people, buoyed by a responsibility we would have committed to.
Christmas is a time for positive responses; it is time for cheer, joy and goodwill. For Barbados this year, Christmas is a test of decision; a test of wits; a test of faith; and a test of our political leadership. May the joys of giving and receiving, loving and being loved extend well into the halls of Barbadian politics.
And May we offer our best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to the Barbados TODAY family and friends, and extended associates
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