Fellow Jamaicans and Friends of Jamaica,
One of the enduring traditions of Christmas is the coming together of families and friends. At Christmas the road from various continents leads back to Jamaica and families throughout our island eagerly await the arrival of their loved ones. Let me welcome home all those who have come to gladden the hearts of their families and friends and to be re-energized in this beautiful land of ours. I also welcome all our friends, many of whom are return visitors, and hope that this Christmas in Jamaica will be your best ever.
It seems easier to extend the hand of love and friendship and to be good neighbours in the spirit of Christmas. I hope that Christmas still means togetherness for all of us. I hope that all across Jamaica families will come together; that broken relationships will be healed; that joy will radiate again in the hearts of people who have been saddened or embittered by the vagaries of life; that the hope for and assurance of better days ahead will spring anew and that peace will reign in our families and our nation.
For most people, this is a time for celebration. Yet, even as we celebrate, we must be mindful of our brothers and sisters who dread this time of year for many reasons. For some, unhappy memories come to the fore; it is a time of loneliness, sadness and regret. There are those for whom Christmas is just another day trying to survive in the streets.
We who are blessed in so many ways need to spread, by word and deed the Christmas message. Let this spill-over into the rest of the year and eventually become second nature to us. In these difficult times, you, who are in a position to help the poor, the disadvantaged and the vulnerable, should remain alert to the various ways in which you can help. I urge all who can, to give to religious and other charitable institutions and groups, who selflessly serve the needy.
We can also spread the Christmas message of love by caring for our senior citizens, especially those housed in homes for the aged; visiting our at risk children in state homes and motivating them to believe in themselves; and protecting our children from all forms of abuse. Sometimes, just treating people – old and young – with respect and investing some of our time in them could be what makes the difference in their lives.
The temptation is to think, that because these are tough times, we must build our own protective fortress. In that case, we would be like the innkeepers who barred their doors to Joseph and Mary, and like those who have lost hope! But we have reason to hope, despite the difficulties which confront us; we have:
* that indomitable Jamaican spirit within each of us;
* the resilience and the perseverance which will overcome obstacles;
* the creativity, and the potential that lies within us to excel in our various fields of endeavour.
We can have peace in our communities when we:
1. demonstrate respect for others and tolerance of their views;
2. opt to resolve our differences through dialogue, mediation or other non-violent path to conflict resolution.
There will be peace in Jamaica when love transforms us into being our brother’s keeper, and when we can get together with one love, and one heart!
Joy, hope, peace and love – these are the essence of the true Christmas message, and these should also be the foundation of our society in which we choose to live, work, raise our families and do business!
Fellow Jamaicans, on behalf of Lady Allen and the rest of my family, I pray that you and your loved ones will experience a Christmas that is meaningful, enjoyable, and filled with good cheer.
A Merry Christmas to all of you!