CHRISTMAS MESSAGE: Year of thanksgiving
FELLOW BARBADIANS, It is that time of the year again when men, women and children across the world pause to focus on God’s gift to the world of his son, Jesus Christ, two thousand years ago. Christmas 2016 in Barbados comes hard on the heels of our year-long expression of thanksgiving to God for his gift to us of 50 fruitful years of nationhood.
The theme of giving has been at the heart of the Christmas story from its very beginning. God gave his only son so that fallen man might be redeemed. On the occasion of the birth of that son, wise men came from the East to visit Him and to bring Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
It is wholly appropriate, therefore, that at Christmas time, we all follow the examples of the first Christmas and give generously to those who may be less fortunate than we are, or to those who are in need. In so doing, we keep alight that unique flame kindled at Bethlehem during the days of Herod the king.
The challenge which has always faced us is how, throughout the year, we can make the spirit of giving a part of our lives from day to day. We may not have material gifts that we can share with others, but each of us has something that he or she can give to create in Barbados a more congenial environment in which residents and visitors alike can live, can work, can enjoy recreation or can do business.
Let us at this Christmas time resolve to concentrate less on what we can take or on what we can receive, and concentrate more on what we can give.
In the past, I have beckoned key stakeholders in our national development to assume, wholeheartedly, the responsibility of both giving and giving back to the society whose hospitable embrace they continue to enjoy. I do so again in this our jubilee year.
As parents, we can give a little more time to the welfare of our children who live in a world beset today by so many perils, by so many traps, by so many snares. In so doing, we will contribute greatly to securing their future and strengthening the foundations on which our national life rests.
As workers, we can give more at our places of work by being more punctual, by giving a full day’s work, and by being willing when required by the employer to give a little extra in the interest of the success of the office or business place.
As employers, we can give more time to improving the general well-being of our workers; to bestowing on them the gift of appreciation whenever and wherever possible; and to building a better understanding on the part of the worker of each particular function or task.
As teachers, we can give more by recognising that among life’s most precious possessions is the mind of a child. We can then determine to make that additional effort to ensure that, working along with parents, the character of our children is durably formed and that positive values are properly instilled.
As leaders at all levels of the society, we can give more by being ever conscious that we are always being watched, and that the examples we set by the things we say, by the things we do, and even by the places we go, will influence those we lead either for good or for ill.
For each of us a gift can be either something spiritual like prayer, words of encouragement, good advice or sharing of talents and skills; or something material or physical, like spending precious time with an elderly person or someone with a disability, or lending a helping hand to someone in need.
It can also be a donation to organisations like the Salvation Army and the Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society, which look after the least fortunate in our society.
In all of these ways and others, we can make the spirit of Christmas a year-round experience; we can bring happiness and meaning to those countless persons who need to benefit from our giving; we can give concrete and living expression to that peace on earth and goodwill towards men which the birth of Christ was intended to herald.
In this season of goodwill, I take this opportunity, on behalf of the members of the Cabinet, on behalf of our families and on our own behalf as individuals, to wish all of you, residents and visitors alike, and the Barbadian diaspora worldwide, a blessed Christmas and a healthy and bountiful New Year.