My Fellow Jamaicans:
Lady Allen and I greet you very warmly today as we celebrate once more the joys of the Christmas Season. We do so, reminding ourselves of our collective need to maintain that all-encompassing duty of care.
Caring and Sharing During the Season
It is an accepted feature of the rhythm of our lives, that there are times of spiritual awakening, particular pleasure, excitement and deep personal satisfaction, when we experience a strong desire to share our joy generously and embrace our neighbours with goodwill and kindness.
Christmas, for many Jamaicans, is one of those times when warmth and friendliness characterize our relationships, and long may it remain so. Because each of us has a duty of care, that spirit of benevolence should last way beyond the Season. It calls us to be good neighbours to our fellow citizens, demonstrating the concern for their welfare and our respect for them, as sharers of our common space together.
Uplifting Each Other
As we celebrate during the season, let us commit to engage whenever and wherever we identify an opportunity to support one another, and to affirm our concern for the uplifting of our people. In building the peaceful and productive society to which we aspire, we need to be consistent and purposeful in our efforts, to exercise that duty of care.
Using the Tradition to Instill Values in Children
In this spirit, I make a special appeal in relation to our youngest group of Jamaicans. Our Christmas traditions here and elsewhere in the world, have placed children at the centre of our thoughts, our planning and our giving. We can use the ‘opportunity of Christmas’ to instil in our children the value of enjoying, caring and protecting – not only the gifts which are very often perishable – but the intangibles: i.e.
• the pleasures and responsibilities of family life
• sharing with others
• protecting themselves from uncomfortable attention,
• feeling safe to confide in their parents, teachers and caregivers,
• and striking a good balance between work and play
These can all contribute to building that brighter future for our children.
The late iconic founding President of the modern Republic of South Africa, Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” It is also true, that our future together, will depend very much on how the nurturing of our children today, will impact on the kind of society which they shape for the rest of the population, when they are the adults and in control of our nation.
Let us as a people take time this Christmas, to contemplate the significance of the Season. Let us make it truly a time of peace and goodwill. May the fellowship we enjoy in our families, and as we share with others, cause us all to be grateful both for what we receive and for the opportunity to give. And so together, parents, guardians and children, young and old, employed and seekers of employment, leaders and citizens – all of us Jamaicans – may the spirit of caring and sharing remain with us, beyond the Season into the years ahead.
A joyful, safe and caring Christmas to all!