When adversity hangs over our Christmas tree

With all the talk these days about the economy, S&P and downgrades, it is easy to understand why not everyone is in the mood for Christmas this year. In fact, already this season, we have had more than our fair share of Grinches, based on the amount of negativity around –– both within and outside these shores.

This morning, for example, one of the main headlines on the BBC news was of an elderly couple left in critical condition in hospital after a “vicious attack” in their home by a suspected burglar. The 90-year-old man suffered injuries to his throat, while his wife, in her 80s, sustained head injuries when they were assaulted at their Elm Grove, Scunthorpe home yesterday evening. Police also said they had arrested a 36-year-old man in Brigg, North Lincolnshire.

It is the kind of news that sends shivers down the spine and forces us to ask: “Why this senseless behaviour? What could these two old people have done to warrant such an attack? And, how heartless can these burglars be, pouncing as they did just 48 hours before Christmas?

Even here in Barbados, we no longer feel as safe as we used to –– never mind the talk of an “unprecedented” 15 per cent drop in crime.

As 19th century British leader Benjamin Disraeli was reported to have said, “there are lies, damned lies and [our latest crime] statistics”.

Not that we don’t have the greatest of respect for our current crime boss, but somehow official figures never square with the reality of us ordinary men and women in the street.

If anything they seem to embolden the criminal element that continues to lurk in the dark, waiting for the opportune moment when we let our guard down –– and with it the anticipation of said criminal group being able to boast again having proven our crime chief wrong.

It is sort of Chris Sinckler-Standard & Poor’s situation. The goodly Minister of Finance delivers upbeat news on a Tuesday, and along comes S&P to drive a nail in the Barbados lifeboat by the next Friday, leaving us all out to sea, wondering if our national boat captain can really ferry us out of these treacherous waters alive.

But we remain confident that Barbadians will see the light in the midst of all the current adversity.

Certainly, as we approach Christmas Day, we sincerely hope that Barbadians will not allow the Grinch to steal their peace and blessings –– no matter in what shape or form it appears.

Perhaps, our inability to splurge in the way that we used to will bring us closer to the true meaning of Christmas, which has nothing at all to do with the size and cost of the gift that lies beneath the tree.

In fact, it has to be said that Christmas has little or nothing do with economics. Now is therefore as good a time as any to impart such values to the young, so that the holiday season means more to them than Xboxes and Barbie dolls.

To be truthful, do we really need a Christmas tree, a plateful of turkey or ham; or to deck our halls will boughs of holly? Enjoy ourselves we must, but let’s understand the real joy of Christmas comes not in the hurrying and the scurrying to get more done, nor is it found in the purchasing of gifts.

The American religious author Thomas S. Monson puts it best when he says: “Christmas is the spirit of giving without a thought of getting. It is happiness because we see joy in people. It is forgetting self and finding time for others. It is discarding the meaningless and stressing the true values.”

May we all seek to ensure this is the best Barbadian Christmas yet!

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