Christmas is a time of joy, peace, family gatherings, food and celebration. Culturally and traditionally we would herald the season with many church services, cantatas, choirs caroling, programs depicting and celebrating the birth of Christ Jesus, who we learned from childhood came into the world to save us all, food, drink and merry making. In thinking of what Christmas truly means, we must reflect on who Jesus is – the son of God, the Messiah, the chosen one, a curious and respectful child, a humble man who showed love and compassion for all, even the ones we would usually turn our backs on.
From the wonderful words of scripture, we learn that his birth heralded a new beginning of Peace, of the one who came to save the world. St. Maarten needs this peace more than ever, St. Maarten needs that love and humility more than ever. We have proven to ourselves that we are capable of working together as a community, lending a helping hand to those in need, and the celebration of Christmas reminds us that He is always with us, and will never leave us nor forsake us.
I truly believe that the attitude of gratitude with which we opened the Christmas season on December 3, has been seen in every facet of our lives since the passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and is what has kept us strong. SxmStrong is a battle cry, a phrase of encouragement, that has resounded with us here can be seen in the day by day improvements we have made in getting back on track to being the number one destination in the Caribbean. With each street and house that gets back power and running water, with each store that reopens, with each new entrepreneur who takes that step to earn for him/herself, with each child who decides to get up and go to school to do their best, with each teacher, nurse, police officer and road worker and every other worker that puts their best foot forward despite their struggles. We have much to be thankful for. Slowly but surely the recovery is happening.
St. Maarten and her people deserve a good Christmas. We deserve a break from the hustling, the clean-up and the rebuilding to give thanks for family, friends and neighbors, for continued good health, strength and resilience in the face of coming struggles. WE must give thanks for LIFE, for HOPE, for PEACE that lives within our hearts to get up each day and start anew. WE must take time to spend quality time with family and loved ones, share a meal or good times with those less fortunate. Time to bake ham, turkey, chicken, roast pork, and make all the delicious dishes that signal it is Christmas time. The tarts and cakes, punches and other special drinks will be made and shared, and of course gifts have been made or bought and will be shared with others.
Many organizations as well as the Government of St. Maarten have made certain that there is food on the tables, and many will continue to do so as long as the struggle continues. Let us continue beyond this Christmas season to think of others, to remember the joy of giving and to share with a kind heart to those in need. Christmas isn’t just about the gifts you give, it is the love you give and allowing people to feel loved that can change a broken heart.
At this time of year, I say a special prayer for those that are sad, in pain, or going through difficulties that makes this season hard to bare. Remember that God is always with us and this time too shall pass, and we will emerge stronger to face whatever the world has to offer.
However you decide to celebrate Christmas this year, May God bless us all right on St. Maarten as well as those abroad and may you all have a blessed and safe Christmas 2017.