Oh the weather outside is frightful…

I remember some years ago, way up in the far North, I staggered home, full of the Christmas spirit to a friend’s house in the wee small hours of the morning in search of a party and me in full voice, singing the above…to this day (and some years have elapsed!!) he says that every time he hears the song ‘Let it Snow’ he thinks of me…

I think that everyone at some level would like to be remembered for something decent but to be remembered as a carefree man full of youthful exuberance and high on the Christmas spirit only to be recollected in the mayhem of shopping, movies, and Christmas shindigs over the festive season would not be at the top of many people’s ‘This is how I want to be remembered lists!’

So Christmas is upon us. What will you remember this Christmas? Who will you think of or about? Christmas is a funny old time. I think it brings out the best and the worst in human nature. We spend ridiculous amounts of money (some of us do;-)) buying crap that nobody really wants or needs when we do have so many unfortunate souls on this planet. In the last few weeks I had the pleasure of spending a full day talking to a maternity nurse in Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry: she was a fascinating woman. She was telling me all about the work that she does in Zambia, not in the way of self praise but in a really sincere way and conversational manner. And in spite of years of hearing it, in spite of having run the world, listened to the Band Aid song etc for the first time it really hit me-they really don’t know that it is Christmas in Africa or for that matter in streets not too far from where I sit writing this mail… I am not trying to jump on the sentimental bandwagon of Christmas guilt and I think that those of you who know me well enough will understand exactly what I am saying.

Then you have the kids-joyous, deliriously happy, hyper and the sheer magic and happiness that they give you/us/me compensates for so much of what is missing in our own lives. You cannot put a price on that-the wee smiley faces, the joy, the happiness…Then you have the family get-togethers. I caution you to enjoy them too because they are fast changing landscapes-families disintegrate and so on… and in the midst of it all of this we have absent friends…then you have the angst and worry of caring for those around you who are sick and infirm and all the stresses, strains of that. It isn’t easy at times but it’s worth it. That is the true spirit of Christmas. I exhort you to embrace all of that. Get up tomorrow and vow to do something positive, something that will make a difference to the life of just one person. Begin each day with hope.

My Christmas message to you is to ensure that those with whom you come in contact over the holidays remember you as a positive force in their lives. Even if you don’t get the Christmas that you wished for count your blessings. Remember the words of that old Irish strain: ‘Count your blessings one by one, For night has gone and day has just begun.’

Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi Mhaise daoibh uilig!