Editorial: 'Many blessings, much still to do'
We have many reasons to be thankful. In the more than 100 years since this Republic was first proclaimed, our opportunities as a people have never been more abundant, our resources never greater.
Our interaction with the great nations of the world remains favourable and the advances in technology are as available here as anywhere else on earth.
We rank among the materially richest people on the planet. We have made tremendous progress in social legislation. More than a decade has passed since the financial crisis and now our economy is booming again.
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This is indeed an important time to pause, to pull a loved one closer and to count our many blessings.
It is also a time for reflection on the journey that lies ahead.
A booming economy, yes, but what of our society? Some dark clouds are gathering and we must pay them heed.
Around the country, among the wider public, we see the rise of anti-migrant campaigns and campaigning. And while there is shock at the conditions in refugee camps in war-torn regions around the world, our own migrant centres are nothing to be proud of.
The plight of our homeless is even worse and the utter and abject failure to make a speedier impression on a dysfunctional housing market is probably the biggest political failure of the Government and the most immediate challenge to the next regime.
Together with that, great energy must finally be devoted to getting a health service that is fit for purpose and equally accessible to all, while at the same time shepherding Britain out of the EU without losing too much advantage ourselves, and trying to ensure the people of Northern Ireland have some semblance of democratic rule restored in the near future, so they are not railroaded into a divisive border poll.
At this time of year, it is also important to remember that the above are over-arching issues and that there are of course many personal sadnesses too, closer to home.
There are empty chairs at tables this festive season. Many live with the heavy burden of personal loss that is amplified by this time of good cheer.
And many, who for years, shouldered the heavy burden of hard work and high taxes are now left isolated and with limited support from the State they effectively kept going.
If we do nothing else over the next few days, it is vital that we stop and take a moment to reflect.
We have a lot to be thankful for. This is a time to recognise the good in our lives, to cherish those we love and what we have. Because life is a gift and no one knows what the future holds.