XMAS MESSAGE DECEMBER 2011 By His Excellency the Acting Governor General, Hon. Elliott Fitzroy Belgrave, CHB

Fellow Barbadians at home and overseas, it is a signal honour and pleasure for me to address you as acting Head of state, following the retirement of Sir Clifford Husbands, from the office of Governor General, on the 31st October, 2011. My first duty therefore, is to thank Sir Clifford on your behalf and on behalf of my family and myself, for the long and meritorious service he rendered to our country, and to wish him many years of peace and happiness in retirement.

On Christmas day each year, for the past 2000 or more years, Christians everywhere, have celebrated the birth of Christ, and this year, celebrations will take place in the customary manner. There has been much shopping and preparation which will give way to, worship in Church, feasting, singing and exchanging gifts with friends and loved ones. Barbadians will join with the rest of the Christian World, and celebrate the Birth of Him, who according to the scriptures is the Saviour and Redeemer of the human race.

It is easy, with all the trappings of Christmas, sometimes to forget the essential message of the birth of Christ in a manger. It was a message of humility, peace, hope, love and tolerance as important now as it was then. In these straitened economic times, it is important to remember that in fact, we need no money, no baubles, to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with our fellow believers, and, indeed, and especially with those who do not share our faith.

{FILE IMAGE, COURTESY - B'DOS ADVOCATE} Hon. Elliott Fitzroy Belgrave, Gov. General of Barbados (Ag)

The importance of family, respect for others, helping those less fortunate, are foundations for our community, irrespective of our background, politics or beliefs. The turmoil in the international economy, that affects us here at home, should serve to remind us, not of the things we have not, but of the important things in life, which money cannot buy, such as love, respect for others and goodwill to all.

At this time, we should extend a hand to all those less fortunate, those who may be alone, sick, or unable to enjoy the festivities as they would wish. We pray for all those in need of comfort, and those who minister to them as nurses, doctors or family members and carers.

We should celebrate the dedication, of all of those who serve us throughout the year, whether as public servants, teachers, nurses, doctors or clergy, members of the Police and our Defence Force. Service is the bedrock of our society and we ask God to instil in our leaders courage and wisdom to serve well, so that through their dedication they will guide us in the paths of righteousness and truth. Christ came to serve us as we must serve others.

We all have our part to play, however small, in building on the work of our forefathers, to continue in the best traditions of Barbados, with tolerance towards all, and most importantly, instilling the values of decency, honesty and thrift in our youth, who are the leaders of tomorrow. If we follow the teachings of Christ, not just today but always, by so doing we would set such a standard of kindness, and integrity, in all our deeds, that our children will seek to emulate us because they learn from our example as parents and citizens.

Barbadians should also give thanks for the many gifts which have been bestowed upon us. We should acknowledge, that we live in a stable society, free from strife and turmoil, that we enjoy freedom of religion, and freedom of association.

Forty-five years of independence have entrenched our rights and ensured our freedoms. We are also free to enjoy the beauties of our Island Home which has once again been spared the worst ravages of hurricanes and other natural disasters, which increasingly afflict our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean and beyond. With God at our side, I am sure we will be able to ride out the turbulence we now experience, and eventually, reach our destination in safety.

Our beloved country Barbados is an oasis in the Caribbean Sea, where we, together with our visitors can find peace and recreation from the pressures of everyday life. The message of peace and goodwill towards all men, is a universal one, which is shared by all peoples, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances.

Fellow Barbadians, at home and abroad, and visitors to our shores, on behalf of my wife and family, and on my own behalf, I extend to you, very best wishes for Christmas. It is my earnest hopes that you enjoy good health, success and prosperity in the New Year and beyond. May God bless you all, and cause the light of his countenance, to shine upon you.

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