Thursday 14 November 2019

A day to put aside our concerns and count our blessings

TOMORROW we celebrate Christmas and while we may all have been caught up in the madness that inevitably precedes it, the day itself does give us a chance to reflect and take stock.

We will all use different weathervanes to calculate how 2012 has been for us.

There are the personal issues and events, triumphs and catastrophes that mark our lives and those of our loved ones and friends.

Beyond that, there are the wider issues . . . and we all know what they are.

A quick perusal of the editorial that graced this same page on December 24 last year does not make for comforting reading.

Most of the issues it chalked up as having made 2011 an economic misery are still with us today, although the emphases have shifted slightly.

Consumer confidence is on the floor, much as it was a year ago, and unemployment remains stubbornly high.

In 2013, the question of whether or not we pay the next instalment of the promissory note will be one to watch; and the issue of mortgage debt relief, for those hopelessly out of their depth, will come in from the wings and take centre-stage.

But perhaps proposed legislation on the availability of abortion in limited circumstances is likely to ignite the most intense debate.

Whatever the issues that inform and shape public debate next year, it will be the ones that affect our families – like childbirth and negative equity – that will fill the most newspaper column inches and broadcasting airtime.

Tomorrow, of all days, is about family. Not necessarily the traditional nuclear family that we once took as the norm, but family nonetheless.

It's a day to be surrounded by loved ones and close friends, to feast, to reflect and to forget,

Reflect, perhaps, that despite the hard times that have befallen many of us, life is still relatively good.

And forget – if only for a short while – the concerns, squabbles and irritations of our daily lives.

It is a day for children, most especially. To see their eyes light up is a source of joy for even the most cynical and weather-beaten of adults.

For the elderly, those of that remarkable generation who built this country for little thanks and less reward, it should be the day when we say thanks.

Perhaps it is one of the few positives of our spectacular economic downfall that many of the seasonal excesses of the Celtic Tiger era have given way to a more considered approach.

Retailers have been quick to tell us this year that shoppers are more cautious in their approach to Christmas shopping and that they now seek and find rather than buy first and repent later.

We still spend far more at this time of year than is sensible, or practical, and certainly more than our European neighbours.

While some of that can be put down to an innate generosity, it could also be argued that we still have adjustments to make.

But setting aside mammon for a moment, Christmas Day is, after all, about celebrating the birth of Christ.

In an age of multi-culturalism and social diversity, we should not lose sight of the fact that, in the last Census, the great majority of people on this island described themselves as Christians.

But the day belongs to all religions and none.

Indeed, it belongs to everyone who has peace in their heart and has love and goodwill to give and express.

In that spirit, we would like to wish all our loyal readers a very happy Christmas.

Irish Independent

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