Fellow St. Maarteners, Residents of our beautiful island
It is that special time of the year again when we gather together as family to celebrate the birth of the Redeemer.
Christmas is, indeed, a time for family. And nothing brings family and friends together like the birth of a child.
All the positive attitudes of our humanity are expressed and exemplified in the spirit of Christmas. The spirit of giving without expecting anything in return; the joy and happiness as well as the togetherness we find in merry-making and above all the love we share with our neighbors and fellow men, regardless of their station in life.
No one is supposed to feel lonely at Christmas. No one is supposed to go hungry. Every child looks forward to receiving gifts during this season, whether they behaved well throughout the year or not.
There is Jollification in Christmas. Traditionally, we cook up a storm, not just to feed ourselves, but all those who pass by our homes. We even send food to friends and relatives, and share with our neighbors, not because they have nothing to eat, but because this is the way we express our sense of belonging.
We open our homes and our hearts to others without feeling vulnerable because of the mystery and marvel in the manger where Christ was born.
That story about the child Jesus teaches us that the circumstances of our birth do not define us, that our destiny is not tied to where we were born, but who we were born to be. It tells us that we should never look down on a person because of their humble beginnings, but look to lift up everyone to where they truly belong.
The spirit of Christmas is, therefore, not a one-day feeling; it is not a seasonal event but a permanent injunction for us to be our brother’s keeper. Charles Dickens said, “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” This should be the mantra for all of us.
Christmas is a gift, and as Pope Francis put it, “God never gives someone a gift they are not capable of receiving. If he gives us the gift of Christmas, it is because we all have the ability to understand and receive it.”
I pray that you will receive this gift with humility, and understand the message that comes with it. May the love, joy and peace that Christmas brings be with you and your loved ones throughout the year.
On behalf of my wife, Gabrielle, my children, Ohndhae, Ihndhira, Ighmelene and Hakeem and my entire family, and also on behalf of my Cabinet and the new government of St. Maarten, I wish you and your family and friends a very Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays!
God bless you. And God bless St. Maarten.