Lord Mayor Alderman Gareth Wilson is encouraging communities across the borough and beyond to use the most important date in the Christian calendar to ‘rejoice, reflect and reach out to others’.
He said: “For many of us, Christmas is the most joyous time of year because we can take a well-deserved break from the hustle and bustle of life, share precious moments with family and friends and celebrate the holiday season and all the traditions that make it extra special.
“As we look forward to enjoying the niceties of the season, we should pause for a second and take stock of the many reasons we have to rejoice. Let’s be thankful for having food on our table, a roof over our head and loved ones who provide us with comfort and care because we are blessed. There are many people around you and in other parts of the world who are less fortunate. Spare a thought for those who are suffering hardship, experiencing ill-health or grieving the loss of a loved one. If you know someone who has little reason to rejoice this year, show them some compassion.
“A small act of kindness - be it a donation to a charity or food bank, a visit to an elderly neighbour, a simple smile to a passer-by in the street - can make a big difference to their lives. Christmas is a time for reflection when we look back at all that has gone before and look forward to what is to come.
“It’s a time to deepen the connection we share with family, to remember the precious lessons we’ve learned in the year just past, and most of all, to think about how we can use our wisdom to create a more meaningful and rewarding future for ourselves and others.”
He added: “It’s also a time to reflect on what the Christmas holiday represents. Amongst all the merry making of the festive season, we should think about the true meaning of Christmas, the importance of the birth of Jesus Christ and the message of hope and salvation it brings.
“As I reflect on my time so far as Lord Mayor, the highlights for me have been the activities and events that have taken me into the heart of our communities, meeting the people who dedicate themselves to improving the areas where they live.
“I often draw strength from meeting so many inspirational, caring and considerate people who give generously of their time and talents: volunteers, carers, community organisers and good neighbours; unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special. Thank you for the sterling work you do.
Christmas provides many opportunities for us to reach out to others. Whether you’re part of a family or live alone, whether you’re young or old, whether you’re a person of faith or not – what matters are the basic virtues of love and compassion, caring and community, giving to others and looking out for them.
“The month of December can be a stressful, lonely and sad time for many members of our community who are dealing with family conflict, loss, break ups, divorce, loneliness and health issues. So, this Christmas, let us all once again think of others and, if we can, give just that little bit extra.
“We are indebted to those who work hard over the festive season such as our emergency services, hospitals, doctors, rescue services and charities who support the vulnerable at this important time of year. Let’s also remember the men and women of the Armed Forces who serve and protect us all year round.
“My message to you is to appreciate all you value and hold dear all year round.
As a borough and a community, let’s look forward to the future with renewed optimism.
May peace, joy and happiness be yours this Christmas and every day throughout the new year.”