As we celebrate the greatest gift that God gave to this world – his son, and we emulate that act of giving with our presents to our loved ones.
The Christmas symbols are powerful as well. The story of Mary and Joseph; ordinary people living ordinary lives; yet destined to show that ordinary people can create extraordinary history. Also the Christmas spirit is alive and well as we spread sentiments of peace and goodwill to everyone. We take this time to celebrate our blessings and good fortune for being able to live in this wonderful land.
Because it comes at the end of the calendar year, and very close to our annual budgetary exercise, it is also necessarily a time to reflect as well. The budget gave us the opportunity to examine our performance over the past year, and make projections for the New Year. This year has continued to be extremely challenging, the impact of the financial climate on the local economy had led to very straitened circumstances for many of St. Kitts – Nevis businesses and families. The introduction of the VAT and the increases to the cost of living has affected us all. We are a small nation, and as such our survival will always be precarious, therefore we must develop innovative policies and programmes to survive during this period and position ourselves that we would be able to take advantage of any opportunities that may come when the global economy gets stronger.
As we attempt to modernize St. Kitts – Nevis, we have seen the erosion of our traditional values and support systems, without getting much of the benefits of developed economies. We have witnessed the breakdown of the extended family as people move away from home and now need to pay for care of the elderly and children. However, there are no bailouts when local businesses fail, and no social safety nets in the case of job losses. These pressures are continually in my thoughts as I remember those who are in need among us and pray for them at this time.
I have not said all this to dampen the Christmas spirit but to make it more rewarding. This is a time when it is important to draw deeply on the message, spirit and symbols of Christmas. Let us ensure that the disadvantaged among us are able to share in the goodness of God’s grace through our kindness, it is time to do our greatest service to
God and our Country, remember his words ‘Inasmuch as you have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.’
Let us foster a spirit of optimism and anticipation; let us believe that ordinary Kittitians can achieve extraordinary things and hold fast to the conviction that we will find our space at the inn. Let us come together as one big Kittitian family, sharing and shaping our future together. Let us now fill our thoughts with the certain knowledge that we will rise above the many difficulties that beset us and emerge in triumph.
My wish is that everyone can take some time to enjoy the special meaning of Christmas and the values that Kittitians are famous for giving, caring and sharing. Additionally I wish everyone – Kittitians at home and abroad, and our visitors a joyous Christmas and a bountiful new year.