Merry Christmas to one and all!
Today we can take a verse from our National Song that adequately sums up Christmas day and indeed the season:
“And when comes on the season.
Of peace, good will to man.
‘Tis then I love thee best of all.
Beloved Isle, Cayman.”
Today many of us are blessed to be with our families and friends as we gather to open presents and prepare for our Christmas feasts.
This is a day that we should all slow down a bit to reflect on our blessings; because as a people and as a country we are truly blessed.
We were spared from the impact of a hurricane in what has turned out to be a dreadful hurricane season. While we were spared, many in the region suffered from direct hits of major hurricanes. I am thankful that we were able to help out our sister British Overseas Territories who suffered from the ravages of hurricanes Irma and Maria. As we read in the book of Luke in the Bible; “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required.” We are our brother’s keeper and in my view it is our duty to lend a hand when needed. We know the ravages of storms and we also know that the next time we could be in the bull’s eye of nature’s wrath.
While we extend our warmth and love to our brothers and sisters throughout the region, I believe we must take Luke’s advice locally. It is my wish that we live year-round with consideration, good will and caring for each other right here at home.
For some of us, this past year has been filled with challenges. Some have faced the loss of loved ones. Others have dealt with their own personal tragedies and there are some in our midst who are, frankly, lonely. They are facing their own difficulties in what should be a joyous season. I implore you to lift them up with an encouraging word, a smile or an unselfish act. Just a simple act of kindness can go a long way to make this Christmas day bright.
We are blessed beyond measure in the Cayman Islands to have charities, service clubs, businesses, groups and individuals who, along with Government, help to ensure that those among us who are less fortunate have a joyous holiday.
I am proud of the work of the last Administration and for the solid foundation in which it left the country – with Government finances sorted out and a growing economy. And with major policy and legislative initiatives in place – including a National Minimum Wage and the Ready to Work program.
I am proud too of the men and women who make up the new Government of National Unity. We are ambitious for Cayman and for our Caymanian people and this is displayed in the many initiatives contained in our first two-year budget; a budget that focusses on education, national security, mental health, and improving the social fabric of our Islands, as well as supporting a growing economy.
We are seeing the fantastic progress on our new airport and we all look forward to seeing the remaining sections open. We are also seeing the progress made on our road infrastructure and on a new waste management system that includes recycling, composting and waste to energy.
These are exciting times for our Islands and we have a bright future ahead of us. So, yes, on this Christmas Day, as a country, we have much to be thankful for.
I hope that today you take some time to reflect on your personal blessings, as well as those of the Cayman Islands and give thanks.
Personally, I will today as I get to spend with my wife and two sons, my father – who by the grace of God is still with us – my sisters and the rest of my family and friends. I cherish this time because of the opportunity to slow down, reflect and surround myself with my loved ones.
If I had one Christmas wish it is that the enchantment of Christmas day could be captured year-round; that the feelings of goodwill and charity would be visible and felt throughout the year.
And I sincerely hope that each of you has a joyous Christmas.
On behalf of Government, my family and myself, I wish each of you a very blessed Christmas.
Alden McLaughlin, MBE, JP, MLA, is Premier of the Cayman Islands.