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FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: A time for family

DR FRANCES CHANDLER, [email protected]

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH: A time for family

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CHRISTMAS – it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The countryside looks lush and green, the weather is cool with a nice breeze and the Christmas carols and other songs lift your spirits.

The Christmas feeling is so infectious that I’ve even been hearing confessed atheists wishing us all a happy Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Christmas is also a time when families tend to get together. If we agree that children are our future, then it follows that the family is at the root of solutions for a sustainable future.

Families and family support systems are important for a sustainable society. Sadly, over time families have drifted apart, to such an extent that younger members often don’t know or even recognise each other. How can the church help? How can schools help? How can we all help?

Before we talk about having larger families, we need to understand how to take care of them.

Children need personal attention. Electronic devices can’t replace it, whether at home or at school. Ironically now that there are so many labour-saving devices, we seem to have less and less time to devote to family.

Regarding schools, as Senator Harry Husbands said recently, “as valuable and critical as technology is, it cannot replace the preparation and work which teachers are expected to put into the classroom . . . Teachers still have a critical role to play in preparing, motivating and guiding the young minds of students”. In other words, let’s not “put all our eggs in technology’s basket”.

It’s good to see the number of family events that were staged this month. Among them are the ever popular Carols by Candlelight sponsored by the Rotary Club of Barbados, the St Winifred’s pantomime, Carols At St Nicholas Abbey and the Christmas Wonderland sponsored by Simpson Motors. All these events brought families together and allowed children to enjoy being children rather than being forced into adult activities prematurely.

Both Carols By Candlelight and the St Winifred’s pantomime have been happening for many years and have maintained a high standard. Both the content and the organisation are outstanding. I’m always amazed that at the pantomime, over 400 people can be served with refreshments during a half-hour intermission.

The dedication of present and past students, parents and teachers is commendable, and demonstrates loyalty to and continued interest in the school’s welfare.

The St Nicholas Abbey carol singing with the Police Band is more recent but is becoming increasingly popular every year. It’s a pleasant evening for both children and adults and it contributes significantly to children’s medical and other needs.

The Simpson Motors Christmas Wonderland has returned with a bang after quite a few years – another fine example of impeccable organisation from the parking to the crowd control and the walk-through of the exhibits. It attracted so much interest that not everyone could be accommodated in the allotted time.

The whole atmosphere was magical and the staff pleasant and welcoming. The display combined the traditional things children associate with Christmas and modern computerised sound effects and animation. Everything went off without a glitch, thanks to skill, proper organisation and attention to detail. What made the event even more worthwhile was that contributions were made to charity.

But while we try to keep our spirits high at this special time, we can’t help but be distressed by all the problems that continue to plague us. Nothing seems to be working and no one wants to take responsibility. So I was thinking that maybe the Prime Minister, in his rumoured Cabinet reshuffle, might consider dropping the jokers from the pack and “shuffling” some of those who have organised these Christmas events so successfully into the Cabinet.

Finally, I wish you all a Happy Christmas, but as an advertisement I heard recently pleaded, “Spend your holiday overjoyed but under budget.”

• Dr Frances Chandler is a former Independent senator. Email: [email protected]