WHAT MATTERS MOST – Time of year
To say that Christmas is my favourite time of year sounds like the old cliché that it is. But this does not stop the statement from being truthful. It happens to be the month of my birth, but this is insignificant when compared to the birth of the master.
By the way, whether or not there is a master is not up for intellectual debate because its resolution requires only faith.
This time of year is special to any pre-Independence baby when the confluence of events in those treasured decades surrounding the birth of the nation and the birth of the Almighty created a physical and spiritual hive of activity. The warmth of Christmas carols is enough to make the coldest winter tolerable and the heat of the tropics bearable.
The magic is wrapped in its power to transcend national borders, village boundaries and household perimeters. It never mattered that many carols made reference to winter and snow; it never mattered that there was a distinct rural and urban difference; it never mattered that some had more than others. It always mattered that we got to see ham, to smell the varnish and to get a new pants and shirt.
This time of year was my favourite because I got an opportunity to draw up under my mother even more. I was able to bake my own little pudding in the Mello-Kreem can; I volunteered to wash the pan in which the special one mixed the cake and I would get a chance to be up until lights were out. These were privileges that made Christmas special!
I have come to recognise that the timing of Christmas was fortuitous. It allowed for planning. It signalled the end and ushered in the new. For the poor, it offered that one time of year when appreciation for life and the essence of life came to the fore.
The beauty in giving is to feel a sense of sacrifice. It was possible to be very happy with so little, so what has changed? The value system!
This society that has made tremendous physical strides, it still seems to have lost its way. There seems to be a mismatch between expectations and the resources to deliver on them. Unfortunately, the mismatch is disproportionately evident among those who are least able, making this group increasingly vulnerable to promises that are wrapped in self-interest by those who promise a better way of life.
This time offers an opportunity to re-evaluate the direction in which this society has been heading. It is time to put our house in order by revisiting the values that allowed us to work hard, to share the little and to measure progress less materially and more spiritually.
There are obvious forces that intend to help shape the society to accommodate their desires; who intend to promote individualism to the detriment of the family; who see freedom of expression as the embrace of all choice and who use perceived public opinion as the basis for change.
The true beauty of Christmas is that it gives an opportunity for reflection and it reflects missed opportunities. It does so by imposing its will on us to reach out even in times of deprivation.
This period of Yuletide imposes an even greater will; the will to seek truth. It is difficult to think of a period in our recent history when we were as challenged to assess the present in the hope of changing the future. This Christmas raises truths that if not addressed could compromise future Christmases.
Nevertheless, Merry Christmas to you!
Clyde Mascoll is a professional economist and former Government minister in the last Barbados Labour Party administration.