Especially in these times, any occasion that unifies people and brings pause, is worth celebrating.
It seems the Christmas Season becomes more important amidst the chaos, instability and earth changes with every passing year. It is so because it remains one of the few stabilizing elements of life, a sure time (thing) when the very best of humanity is on display. The centuries’ long traditions of celebrating Christmas, invoking the story of inspiration, birth of life signifying a new order, and the evolving gathering, sharing and giving, bring a time of calm, comfort and concern that are rallying points for all.
For these reasons, the Christmas Season is refreshingly significant. Against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine with the worldwide fallout, rising super power tensions, Covid-19 still very much present and climate change increasingly devastating many parts of the world, Christmas Season is not noteworthy – it is vital. It helps us to re-invoke the qualities that make life worthwhile, the difference between living and enjoying life.
The issues of equity, protecting and caring for the environment, support for small nations affected by issues not of their own making and levelling the playing field for multilateral finance, so eloquently put on the world stage by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, are all distilled in the Christmas Season. People rediscover helping those less able, philanthropy is the mantra of every soul, most evident in sharing Christmas meals and giving gifts to the needy.
The kindness of strangers and random, unbelievable financial gifts. The care for surroundings in decluttering and, that very Barbados tradition, painting and otherwise prettying up homes. Even in war zones, a relaxing of hostilities and cordial well wishes. Christmas, therefore, remains a thing of the heart and humanity, all said and done still a reflection of the lessons of the circumstances of the birth of Christ and his life as Savior.
The lessons are needed now more than ever in a world of overwhelming nonsense. In a world of plenty abject poverty and hunger, playing out to oblivion in Somalia. Shake your head mindlessness by celebrities elevated with glee as headline making news. Integrity lost in the muddle of political correctness, illogical beyond measure, that punishes folk with the courage to point out obvious fact – that the Emperor has no clothes.
The onslaught of sheer lies on the Web that is erasing truth. Beyond our valuable family gatherings and wonderful personal giving, it would be a great thing if we could, together, start a revolution by a resolve to display the virtues of the Christmas Season not for one day or a few days, but every day of each year. Along with sharing and giving, let us have less indifference and more compassion, less complaining and more appreciation, less hearing and more listening, less divisiveness and more unity, less talk and much more action. And, one more thing, let’s be thankful. Christmas Season is one of thankfulness, for family, friends, gifts, life. As Barbadians, we have so much to be thankful for. The economy is rebounding, with 10.1 per cent growth for the first nine months of this year.
We are benefitting from the kindness displayed during Covid-19 along with our world known warmth, beauty and stability and tourism is climbing back. A new Sam Lord’s Castle is the largest hotel on the island, set to employ over 1000 persons. Much training and retraining and many social programmes are in place, and coming, to keep Barbadians responsive to changing marketplaces and have resistance to disruptions. New developments with great potential are on the train.
The first menopause clinic in the Caribbean was recently opened in Barbados. Canada’s Paystone and others have opened tech-based payment companies. There have been important business developments between private sector entities in Barbados, Ghana and Sierra Leone. Afriximbank is set to establish a hub in Barbados and the agreement with Rwanda to have large-scale pharmaceutical manufacturing in Barbados is game changing. Work has begun on aspects of the Barbados and Guyana food security agreement. Most of all, Barbados remains a model of stability and democracy, one of the best places in which to live and work on the planet. This, in a world of instability, is a defining factor about which to be thankful.
For all of us, everywhere, let us be thankful we are here and savour our blessings, remembering, in the words of Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata, that with all its sham and drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. My wish is that everyone finds his or her own happiness, recognizing that it might not always be a straightforward path, may require change or just time, and there may be pain before the joy. After all, is not that the overwhelming point of the story of Jesus’ birth that we note during the Christmas Season? Triumphing over difficult times and the hope of a better future? It is with these thoughts and in brotherly love that I wish everyone a delightful and memorable Christmas Season, full of the gifts of our Savior, and the very best in the coming year.