Christmas Message: Dame Sandra Mason

Christmas Message from The Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason, President of Barbados. 

It is with a feeling of thankfulness that I reach out to greet fellow Barbadians, residents and visitors on this Christmas Day 2022.

Some cynics may ask the question what is there to be thankful for and I would reply that there is so much to be thankful for and this brings to mind the chorus that many children will know.

‘Give thanks with a grateful heart

Give thanks to the Holy One

Give thanks because He’s given

Jesus Christ, His Son,

And now let the weak say ‘I am strong’

Let the poor say ‘I am rich’

Because of what the Lord has done for us

Give thanks’

 

If I was fully confident with my singing ability, I would sing it for emphasis.

Over the past year, we all know that there have been several events that have impacted on our daily lives.  We can readily think of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in the Ukraine, the global effects of climate change and the list goes on.

In many instances, the impact has brought negative economic consequences, such as the increase in prices because of the challenges with supply chain issues.  But with our resilience we are still here, finding ways to deal with every adverse situation.

We have seen the reduction in the restrictions in the COVID-19 protocols which have allowed us to engage in many activities.  Children have returned to school and there is a sense of some of the ‘pre 2019 normality’.  However, COVID is still with us and we have to be mindful of the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and other health officials.

We, in Barbados, have been spared the worst effects of the recently concluded hurricane season and in a general way we have resumed our daily lives as we celebrate at this Christmas time.

The Christmas season has been traditionally the time that Barbadians take the opportunity to travel to spend time with relatives, to make improvements in their homes and to plan large family gatherings and the like.  However, more importantly as the chorus reminded us, we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas time and reflect on the significance of this event in our daily lives.

We enjoy the beautiful Christmas Carols and music, we share the love, peace and hope of the season with the exchanging of gifts and helping the less fortunate among us and there is a general feeling of peace and contentment.  And it should be so.

It is at this time, I want us to reflect and think in our own family setting of how we can tackle the increase in violence in our society.

It is not an external problem.  We have to play our part to make our families and communities the best that they can be.  There is no perfect setting in which we live.  The setting for Jesus’ birth was no mansion on the hill but a lowly manger.

We, in Barbados, well know that we are not defined by our environment.  We can reach for the stars.

We must instill in our children a love of God, a love of life and a purpose for our lives and we must lead by example.  Are we talking with our children?  Are we listening to them and spending quality time with them?

I am well aware that times have changed and we are living in a technological age.  Family structures have changed and there are the increasing stresses of life.  However, the family, whatever the structure, is still the nucleus of our existence and we have to nurture it to care for our children.

There was a time not so long in Barbados when one of the highlights of Christmas was going to church on Christmas morning.  How many parents now make the time to take their young children to church at this special time and indeed throughout the year?

Sunday School and church going are not just for the middle aged persons and elderly in our communities.  It is for the young to instill and reinforce Christian principles and values, which should be taught in the home as a starting point.

It is the norm in our fast paced environment for parents in every stratum of our society to juggle time-tables for extracurricular activities on weekends but it seems that an hour cannot be included in the juggling for church attendance.

The nativity scene reminds of the importance of family and family support. Parenting is important and my journey thus far has served to reinforce my views that parent education is important and many of our traditional values have merit, even in today’s world.

We have a lot to do within families as a starting point to make a positive difference in our society.  There is no better time to start this work than at Christmas when we spread joy, hope and peace, which are associated with the birth of the Christ Child.

We can make a positive difference in the lives of our children and their children. So, I am not only thankful but hopeful and prayerful that we can spread the love and joy of the season by our every action throughout the year, within our families and communities to make Barbados a better place.

I wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year. (PR)

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