What does Christmas mean to you? Is it about ham, sorrel and ginger beer? A Christmas tree with lots of presents beneath? A fresh coat of paint? A sombre prayer at church?
Family, friends, loved ones? Watching children play with their gifts? All of the above? Or is Christmas something else?
To quote Calvin Coolidge, is it a state of mind? A time to cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, to have hope?
It matters not how you are today celebrating Christmas. As Charles Dickens wrote, Christmas can be kept “anyhow and everyhow.” But running through all of our Christmases is the sense of a final genuflection before the year is out: a complex kneading together of feelings like nostalgia, love, joy and relief. A commemoration of life itself.
Some of us will not be celebrating Christmas today. While some will engage in the usual excesses, others will be struggling to put food on their plate. We must remember goodwill and compassion. All of us must come together. If there is one gift that any person can afford to give no matter their circumstances it is the gift of civility.
There is no excuse for the hoggish behaviour of our drivers and their sheer disregard for the law, the curtness of shoppers and the snobbery of the privileged among us.
What is the use of observing Christmas if it comes at this price?
Like most years, this has been a difficult one, and we use that label to seek to justify most if not all our shortcomings. Crime has spiralled, the healthcare system has remained unsatisfactory, the economy stagnant.
Our politics remains a front of deep ethnic division. Our policymaking ineffective.
There are those among us, including the victims of crime, crying out for justice but the word remains elusive, and its realisation a pipe dream.
The most vulnerable among us, including children and minorities, continue to suffer in heartbreaking ways. The homeless continue to plead, but the shelter they seek and the care that they need are but a mirage as they hope.
Our Caribbean neighbours suffered tremendous devastation due to natural disasters and climate change and will need several years to rebuild their lives.
Still, there is great beauty around us. We continue to make great strides to improve ourselves.
We continue to demonstrate great resolve and to make quiet, often unacknowledged breakthroughs. What should matter today is our sense of fellowship. We should take a page out of the Christmas book and apply its lessons all year through.
Today and in the year to come we should give each other the gift of togetherness.